The Camden Centre Talk 15/6/92Well, it's a pleasure to be here. I want to thank Evolution Records for, once again, making an event like this possible. It's always a pleasure to return to England. Let me see if I can get my act here and make an event of it.
by Terence McKenna
What I thought I would talk about tonight, since I figure we did our homework during my last visit, is how the psychedelic experience which we have as individuals relates to the global future that we can feel the world being swept toward and how this relates to our planetary paths. I think we can make some sense out of the human condition if we're willing to look at psychedelic plants not as simply tools for individual spiritual transformation, but actually as tools and forces which transformed us as a species in the distant past, and I'll just give it to you very briefly.
As you may or may not know, all primates -- and we certainly are primates -- have what are called 'male dominance hierarchies'. This means that the longest-fanged, meanest s.o.b. in a monkey tribe takes control of the group resources, the females, the weaker males, and this character runs the show, and this is pretty much how we do it today. But my belief, based on 25 years of working with and taking psychedelic plants and substances, has led me to -- well, certainly to the brink of hubris -- to make an adjustment to evolutionary theory and suggest that these psychedelic substances are not private, peripheral, ancillary, cultish, esoteric, meaningless, self-indulgent, narcissistic, or obscure; they are in fact central to understanding how what we call 'human-ness' actually came to be in the first place. I really believe that the reason we have language and notions like community, altruism, loyalty, brotherhood, hope -- the reason we have these qualities, which are the qualities that we embrace as most human and most ennobling to us, is because for a period of roughly a hundred thousand years we self-medicated ourselves and suppressed the poisonous presence of the calcareous tumour of ego. Ego is the psychological structure which is propelling us to hell in a handbasket. The problems which beset the modern world and which continue to go unaddressed and unresolved can all be traced to ego, to our inability to emotionally connect with the consequences of what we are doing to ourselves, to each other, to the world. Our newspapers are filled with data on dissolving ozone holes, planktonic life in the ocean is endangered, toxic wastes are accumulating -- you all know the litany. But in trying to trace it to a root problem, I see it as ego -- the inability of the individual to get with the programme of group values. And I believe that we have this problem because we have fallen into an historical and cultural style that suppresses, denies and ignores the powerful potential of psychedelic plants to transform personalities, to erase boundaries, and to fuse people into a single thinking organism. This is what the nomadic tribalism of the past was all about.
Well, how is this done, or how can this be? If you've had a psychedelic experience, you know that each one is incredibly unique, addressed to the individual, and seemingly as private a matter as one could possibly conceive. But when, as a clinician or a person in my position, you have an opportunity to listen to accounts of dozens, hundreds, of psychedelic experiences, you begin to see the general outline of what these things are doing. And my analysis of it is they dissolve boundaries, they erase differences, they introduce you to the notion that reality is, in the wonderful phrase of Gregory Bateson, 'A seamless web', that we are not atomic entities forever imprisoned in our own private Idahos, we are in fact part of some kind of field. It's almost as though what the psychedelics are attempting to do for sociology and psychology is what was achieved by quantum physics from matter in the 1920s and '30s. Matter, during that period, was re-analyzed and found to be not tiny hard billiard ball-like particles whizzing through space carrying spin and electric charge, but that there was another level, a lower layer, and that other level, that other description, revealed an interactive wave system where individual points of concrescence are merely statistical rather than real, everything dissolves into a kind of soup of multi-leveled, multi-dimensional connectedness, and this is what the psychedelic experience is. I believe that one way of thinking about life is -- biology I mean -- is that it is a chemical strategy for amplifying quantum mechanical indeterminism to such a degree that freedom, true freedom, shimmers into existence at the macrophysical level -- the level that we, as thinking, suffering, striving, dreaming organisms, actually occupy, and that the amplification of quantum mechanical indeterminacy that allows for freedom then allows evolutionary processes to reflect the forces which are impinging upon them.
Now, orthodox science hands you a universe that is characterised by a forward-flowing casuistry where every event is somehow dependent in its existential completeness upon the moment which came immediately before it. And I believe that we can extract, as it were, from the psychedelic experience and return with an entirely different notion of time, space and causality. Probably most of you are familiar from your mathematics classes in school with the idea that they teach you in trigonometry that all possible ellipses can be obtained by sectioning a cone and we can build up a picture of a cone by examining thousands and thousands of elliptical sections of that cone and then reasoning backward to the higher-dimensional object which that cone represents. Well, I believe that every psychedelic journey is a sectioning of a higher-dimensional object of some sort, and that we ourselves, in our individual lives, also represent a sectioning of this higher-dimensional object.
So, then, the intellectual quest, the spiritual quest, becomes one of empowering the felt presence of experience, both psychedelic experience and the normal day-to-day experience of living, and noticing that that is the primary stuff of which reality is made. Reality is not make of quarks and mu-mesons and z-particles. Reality is made of language. Whatever we think reality is, it is an entirely private matter until we describe it -- either linguistically, mathematically, through painting, through dance, through innuendo -- whatever it is, reality then undergoes the formality of actually occurring when it is languaged, and what I've noticed about these psychedelics is that they are catalysts for language. They are, as it were, an enzyme operating in the human body politic propelling us to what's called 'stretch the envelope', stretch the design perimeters of the human experience.
Now, I don't think that many people actually realise how literally I take and intend what I'm saying. I encountered the language issue on psychedelics about 22 years ago when one evening a friend of mine stopped by and he had a little vial of an orange substance and he said 'would you like to try something new?' And I had done my LSD graduate work some few months before, and I only asked him one question, I said 'How long does it last?' And he said 'It lasts about 10 minutes', and I said, 'Well, bring it on then my friend!' This was dimethyltryptamine, DMT, and I smoked it and I saw -- I had a feeling of slight anesthesia in my body -- I saw a swirling, floral mandala form behind my closed eyelids, and as I moved toward this mandala, I realised I was going to penetrate beyond it, and I burst through into a kind of other dimensional superspace, and my... I had expected a kind of instant psychoanalysis or perhaps swirling colours or moving geometric plains of light, perhaps a dancing canary or a little candies doing two-steps in a row -- this is what's called hypnogochia in the medical literature, and it is essentially trivial hallucination. Instead, what happened was there was an encounter with what can only be described as an elf hive, a colony of self-transforming, hyperdimensional machine creatures that came bounding forward with joyful squeaks to dribble themselves like self-transforming jeweled basketballs on the floor in front of me, and I was dumbstruck with amazement. Occasionally people ask me 'Is DMT dangerous?', and I think the honest answer is 'only if you fear death by astonishment'. Well, I was astonished, -- I mean, I was an intellectual of the Hegel/Camus crowd when I went through that violet scintillating doorway, and I came out a true believer. Because these creatures in this place are filled with a kind of zany, affectionate, reckless humour and a desire to communicate with human beings, or at least with me in that moment. And what they were doing and how they were communicating was by generating, through their songs, objects, so that what I was surrounded by was a crowd of diminutive, self-transforming blobs of intentionalised ectoplasmic material, and they were producing out of their bodies objects which looked like Faberge eggs or exquisitely-tooled machines made of ivory, glass, and gemstone that were themselves undergoing some kind of transformation, emitting musical sounds, condensing liquid metal out of the air and causing it to rain down on us. Well, my reaction to this was to go into a kind of shock of amazement and, you know, it raises fairly profound questions, like number one, 'Surely I must be dead, surely no-one can have this experience and return intact'. I mean, because, you see, it exceeds imagining, it is beyond your imagining -- even when you're looking at it, you attempt to pour the salutary waters of description over these transdimensional objects and it runs, language runs off them like water off a duck's back. And the emotional content of this kind of encounter is tremendously intense.
These things are attempting to communicate a new dispensation of the Logos. They are holding out the possibility that language need not be processed by the ears, that language can become, under certain radical situations of neurological perturbation, visible, that literally the word condenses into visible space, and they were urging me to do this. They were urging me to experiment with my voice and I discovered years later, taking Ayahuasca in the Amazon jungles, tribes of Indians that have actually mastered this art, and that saturate their bodies with DMT and harmaline, and then sing. But for them this singing is not a musical exercise, it's a pictorial exercise. They see what they intend. This is a kind of telepathy.
Well, it's humbling, it's transformative, it's astonishing to realise that shamans all over the world for time uncountable have been accessing this appalling, complex, ontologically challenging, scientifically impossible, reality. This means that culturally we are living out some kind of schizophrenic delusion, because we live our lives totally ignorant of these possibilities, or perhaps only glimpsing them at the edge of anesthesia, or something like that, unless, of course, we have the courage to be counter-cultural heads. But even then many people confine themselves in the private world of their own reflection because social pressure and, indeed, social legislation make it very touchy to talk about these things. But I say to you, this is part of the human birthright. This is as much a part of the game as birth, sex and dying.
Now, it may well be that there are kiliachasms(?) of time and that each individual is reincarnated time after time after time, but I prefer to suppose not, and to entertain the idea that this life represents an enormous and improbable opportunity that is to be used for something, and the something that it is to be used for is to go out to the edge and explore. You know, you can stay within the conjured circle of scientific rationalism and ho-hum, mundane, secular, yuppiehood, but the method that worked for me was to adore, pursue and obsess on the bizarre, the peculiar, the outre. Somewhere there's an alchemical text which says 'The highest mountains, the widest deserts, the oldest books, there you will find the stone', and what I would like to suggest to you is that of all the methods, tools, points of view, ideologies, and so forth that you will meet when you begin your catalogue of the edge material, the psychedelic dimension is the ne plus ultra of that dimension. Most spiritual seeking is done with the accelerator pressed to the floor. Once you encounter psychedelics you have found the answer. Now the name of the game changes. No longer the ever-eager ingenue hanging on the guru's latest iron whim. Now you have to face the answer. It's not a matter of blithely seeking, it's a matter of screwing your courage to the sticking point, because the tool has been placed into your hand that will work, that will deliver the goods. You know, people tend to complain there's no adventure left in the world, the world is devoid of challenge. I say to you 'five grams in silent darkness in the confine of your own apartment on a rainy Sunday evening an you'll feel that Ferdinand Magellan should take a back seat'.
We tend, you see, to always imagine the challenge rests with someone else. We have been made spectators to life by a disempowering view of ourselves carried to us by science and mass media. You know, you're supposed to identify with Madonna or Elvis or somebody, but the richness -- the inner richness -- of one's own being, because it cannot be bought and sold, is deemed worthless by the culture. We actually live in a de-humanising culture and, as you know, the consequences of a couple of thousand years of this kind of alienation are that now we face the potential death of the planet. We have invented a sin for which there isn't even a word in English that I am aware of, it's the sin of stealing the future from your own children.
How, then, faced with a mounting panoply of facts, studies and statements that point to imminent collapse of our ecosystem, our atmosphere and our social support system, how can we change our minds? If hortatory preaching could do it, then the Sermon on the Mount would have been the turning point. If horrifying displays of military stupidity could have done it, then Hiroshima would have been the turning point. We have to pharmacologically intervene. This is not a test. This is not a game. We do not have 500 years, we do not have a hundred years, we must awaken, and jolly quick, or evolution and planetary dynamics will write "finis" to our fragile effort to build a transcendent vehicle that would move us away from, you know, the mute present of the animal mind and into the realm of spirit, poetry, art, love and transcendence. The only thing that I am aware of that can work quickly enough to make this change are psychedelic substances. They are the only things I've ever seen turn somebody a hundred per cent around in the space of about five hours. On a global scale, this is the kind of remedy that we are seeking. Well, why then can we simply not apply it? The answer is that our problem arises out of our pathological commitment to ego, and ego is what is put at risk by psychedelic compounds. I believe Tim Leary once said -- although he denies it, but it's so brilliant it's worth repeating -- that LSD is a substance which occasionally causes psychotic behaviour in people who have not taken it. This is the problem we're dealing with. These psychedelic substances cause hysterical psychoses in people who have not taken them, and how then do you talk them down out of their tree and attempt to convince them that this is all well and good? Well, it isn't easy. It isn't going to come from the upper echelons of the establishment, this revolution in thinking, it's going to come from youth, it's going to come from people who stand outside the system and can see its contradictions.
Well, is it simply a political evolution, revolution, a desire for more freedom, less entanglement with bureaucracy and restriction of civil rights? I don't think so. I think that when we analyze carefully the content of the psychedelic experience we have to leave our previous models behind. The psychedelic experience is far more than instant psychotherapy or instant regression to infantile traumatic situations, far more than simply a kind of super-aphrodisiac, far more than simply an aid in formulating ideas or coming up with artistic concepts. What the psychedelic experience really is, is opening the doorway into a lost continent of the human mind, a continent that we have almost lost all connection to, and the nature of this lost world of the human mind is that it is a Gaian entelechy. It turns out, if we can trust the evidence of the psychedelic experience, that we are not the only intelligent life forms on this planet, that we share this planet with some kind of conscious mind -- call it Gaia, call it Zeta Reticulians who came here a million years ago, call it God Almighty, it doesn't matter what you call it, the fact of the matter is that the claims of religion that there is some kind of higher power can be experientially verified through psychedelics. Now this is not, in Milton's wonderful phrase 'The God who hung the stars like lamps in heaven' -- it doesn't have to do with that, in my opinion -- it isn't cosmic in scale, it's planetary in scale. There is some kind of disincarnate intelligence. It's in the water, it's in the ground, it's in the vegetation, it's in the atmosphere we breath, and our unhappiness, our discomfort, arises from the fact that we have fallen into history and history is a state of benighted ignorance concerning the real facts of how the world works.
You see, minded human beings existed for a hundred thousand years before what we call history. I believe that in the Saharan plains of Africa, through the use of psilocybin mushrooms -- at first unconsciously and then with conscious intent -- boundaries were erased. The previous several million years of primate hierarchy and male dominance were chemically medicated out of existence and men and women lived in relationships of respect and balance with each other, with their children, with the earth, with other human groups, and that this is the memory of paradise that accounts for our deep nostalgia for the past. It isn't a psychological mirage, it's real, there was a great mystery and it was lost, and we are the impoverished children who have inherited this situation of loss and abandonment, because you see the very forces which created the mushroom paradise in the grasslands of Africa, that same force which was the climatological drying out of the African continent and much of the rest of the planet, eventually turned those grasslands to desert and at that point, under nutritional pressure and with mushrooms a fading memory, agriculture was invented, paternity -- male paternity -- was discovered. And once male paternity is discovered there is tremendous anxiety on the part of males to control the behaviour of females and, as you know, this is not easy, and so consequently social discord arises. You see, what happened was for perhaps as long as two hundred thousand years, the presence of psilocybin in the diet and the environment suppressed ego and so a human relationship to the earth and to other people was possible, and during that time religion, altruism, sense of community, loyalty, all these things I mentioned, came to be. When the mushroom faded, those suppressed atavistic animal behaviours returned, men became territorial, women became property, children became chattel, and the unifying mushroom celebrations and the great lunar orgiastic ceremonies that accompanied the worship of the Goddess -- that all was suppressed and we marched off into history, a nightmare journey, that carries us to today.
And so you see, I see this whole business of the twentieth century as having the psychedelic experience as its centrepiece, as a cultural icon, but surrounding that are all the other impulses to the archaic that surround us now. It begins as far back as impressionism, which deconstructs the realistic image of the romantics, and then you get Freud's discovery of the unconscious, he points out that we are not victorian ladies and gentlemen but dark thoughts split behind our eyelids, that we are obsessed with sexuality, with fecal matter -- you know the list. Following Freud comes Jung, who carries it a step further, introduces the notion of a race mind, racial consciousness, archetypes. Working in a slightly different area, people like Picasso journey to Africa and return to Paris with the masks of tribal peoples which then begin to feed into the theories of analytical and synthetic cubism. Simultaneously, the quantum physicists are announcing that the orderly billiard ball world of the Hamiltonian atom has to be replaced with wave mechanical functions of excruciating complexity, then you get, you know, in short order, I don't know, abstract expressionism, rock and roll, the outbreak of communal lifestyles of the 1960s -- you see, I think all of these cultural phenomena can be placed under the umbrella of what I call 'an archaic revival'. This is what house music is, this is what the psychedelic rebirth is, this is what the new cyber-tribalism is, and at the centre of this the sparkplug, the necessary element, the sine qua non, if you will, is the psychedelic experience, because it's not an ideology, it's not something that you get from Baba if you clean up around the ashram for a few years, it doesn't come to you from some beady-eyed roshi, rishi, geshe, or guru. It's a direct relationship between you and the plant, between you and nature, and when you open yourself up to this you discover that this is the secret that was lost and how they keep the lid on this I really haven't the faintest idea.
This is the biggest news around. I mean, if flying saucers were to land on the front lawn of Buckingham Palace tomorrow, it would be less interesting than your next DMT trip -- to you -- because the DMT trip happens to you. The other, the Guardian or the Economist conveys it to us, and I suppose most of us imagine this is how the news of transformation will arrive. I don't think so. It's not going to come over the tele, it's going to come up from the toes, out of the earth, through your groin, into your heart and up to your brain. This is where the empowerment comes from, and until we begin to decondition ourselves from the images that we are obtaining from the dominator culture we will always be its creatures and it keeps us in a state of infantile delusion. I mean, we are not playing with a full deck unless we integrate into our psychology the presence of the psychedelic experience. Is it terrifying? You bet it's terrifying. Will it change your life forever? You bet, you'll never be the same. The analogy I like to make is to sexuality because the idea of someone going from birth to the grave without ever having a psychedelic experience is to me a notion that makes me as edgy as the idea of someone going from the birth to the grave without ever having a sexual experience. It means you never really rolled up your sleeves and played in the game. You were a spectator, you were a silent witness, you slid through, and you then did not empower yourself to act to reclaim the historical process, because the reclamation of the historical process comes through a commitment to a return to the atavistic through the direct transformation of experience, you see. This is not an ideology, there is no dogma, there are no rules, this is not a menu of moral prescription, this is something that happens between you and this transcendental reality.
Now, I believe that what shamans, including modern cyber-shamans, see when they ascend to the psychedelic heights is actually the viewpoint that we would have if we could penetrate into another dimension -- and I use the word in the mathematically formal sense. You know, Plato said 'Time is the moving image of eternity'. Well, I believe that what the shaman sees is the End, and that this gives the shaman a tremendous self-confidence, a tremendous existential validity, so that he or she can then return and take their place among the rest of us and be a source of inspiration, of a transcendent exemplar.
Well, what is the nature of this End which is seen? Well, mmm, this is where we part company with orthodoxy, if you think we hadn't already -- I think we have entirely misunderstood the character of time. We are not being pushed by the force of causal necessity, we, we human beings, are reacting to the siren song of the transcendental object at the end of time. We are on a collision course with an event for which there is hardly language. We are on a collision course with a temporal vortex of some sort. It has become a cliche of modern parlance and journalism that time is speeding up, that history is moving faster and faster. I take this perception very seriously, because I actually take all perception very seriously. I would always prefer a direct perception than a theoretical construct, and so I would like to suggest to you that what is happening on this planet is that time is being speeded up in our species, we are under the influence of a kind of strange attractor which is moving us through the temporal medium at an ever-faster accelerating rate. This is a law of the universe, though not one recognised by science. (Hopefully, I will change that sad state of affairs.) Because you can see that the early universe immediately after the hypothesised 'Big Bang', was an incredibly simple place. There were no organisms, there were no molecules, there were not even atoms, there was only a pure plasma of electrons and as the universe cooled, levels of complexity crystallised out successively, each one building on the previous level of complexity, so eventually the temperature in the universe dropped low enough that electrons could settle into stable orbits around atomic nuclei. Well, in that case, then you get atomic physics. Those atoms condensed into stars and eventually the temperature and pressure in the centre of those stars was sufficient to trigger fusion and heavier elements, like iron and sulphur and carbon, are then cooked out of these stars. Well, then once you have carbon, with it's four-valent quality, you have the possibility of molecular complexity, an entirely new domain of complexification. Well, not to belabour the point, but quickly out of molecules come highly complex polymers, out of highly complex polymers come early replicating molecules, from them prokaryotes (the earliest living cells, non-nucleated), then the nucleated cells, the eukaryotes, then clusters of colonies, colonies of cells, the earliest organisms, then more complex organisms, eventually higher animals. Out of them, binocular, bipedal primates with an opposable thumb. Out of them, language-using, mushrooms-using, orgiastic humans. Out of them, history, cities, warfare, hierarchies, writing, mathematics, music, and in the twentieth century this all knits together into some kind of global organism. Now, the horror of science is that it denies the importance of this phenomenon... [END SIDE 1]
... this phenomenon at all. For science, the most important phenomenon in the universe is the move toward heat-death and entropy. They barely notice that life represents an amazing and persistent exception to the rule that all thermal dynamic systems run down, life has achieved the miracle of a stability far from entropy through the miracle of metabolism.
Well, notice that in this little scenario I sketched out where complexity emerges out of simpler states, that each ascent to the next order occurs more quickly than the process before it so that we are in a kind of tightening spiral, one of William Butler Yates's gyres, we are wrapping ourselves around a cosmic endpoint of some sort, and this is what I call the transcendental object at the end of time. It beckons across the dimensions, it throws an enormous shadow over the enterprise of human history. This is what drives the guru to make his statement, this is what kindles the messiah to his mission, this is what inspires the painter and the dreamer and the musician, it's that there is this enormous source of affection and concern for humanity that is calling us toward it, across the planes of lower-dimensional time and space. And the miracle is that through perturbing our neurochemistry in ways which shamans have always done, we can turn to the last page, as it were, and we can see then that all this process was actually toward a good cause. We are moving toward the most profound event a planetary ecology can encounter. We are about to witness the freeing of life from the chrysalis of matter. This is what our privilege and our destiny is, is to be the final generation of people with one foot in the material realm of the battered primate and one foot on the ladder to godhood.
And I asked the mushroom once about the social chaos at the end of history, and the mushroom said 'No worry, bro. This is what it's like when a species departs for hyperspace." There's a little shimmy in the landing zone as we take off. So the metaphor that I have created to try and calm people and to make it possible for us to go into this future with dignity and hope -- which I think is the only appropriate response -- is the metaphor of birth. If you had never heard, if no one had ever informed you, of the facts of life, and you were suddenly to come around the corner and encounter a woman in the act of giving birth, this situation vibrates medical emergency -- blood is being shed, clearly there's a great deal of physical pain and agony, pleading, a sense of helplessness, it looks as though an enormous tumour is metastasizing out of someone's body. It would be a real leap of faith and understanding to be able to contemplate that for the first time and to know or to guess that this is how nature does it, this is how we move to the next higher level, this is what is happening to us. Matter and the human body is the placenta of the soul and it is certainly true that the earth is the cradle of the human race, but no infant remains in the cradle forever. Again, to harp back to the birth metaphor, if it's time for birth to occur and it doesn't occur, then you do have medical emergency, what's called toxemia sets in, dangerous to the mother, fatal to the foetus, the two must be medically parted jolly quick or there will be permanent repercussions. This is why we must aid this birth process, because it is painful, life is sculpted out of death and the feeling that we as a species have in this moment is the feeling that the foetus has, I think, as it moves into the narrowest neck of the birth canal. Gone forever are the endless amniotic oceans of peace and tranquillity when we could rape and pillage and burn and explore to our heart's content because the earth seemed infinite in extent. Now, we have the same feeling that the foetus has as it starts down the birth canal -- we can't breath, there's no oxygen, we can't get food, we appear to be ... the walls are moving in to crush us.
What we have to understand is that this is the narrow neck that we have been trained for, this is our destiny, nine times in the last two million years the ice has moved southward from the poles, miles deep. Your ancestors, my ancestors, were there, they didn't drop the ball, and they didn't have antibiotics and advanced medical technology to see them through. Think of how much suffering and how much nobility and how much love has gone in to getting you to this moment. You represent an unbroken chain of responsible, intelligent, coherent people and it ends in us, and so then Tolstoy's question 'What is to be done?'
What is to be done? What we have to do is swallow hard, in a similar way that the Russians had to swallow hard, and admit we did it wrong, we did it wrong, and now the only way out is back, we must return to the archaic world of shamanism, mutual respect among men and women, a sense of seamless cohesion with the living world. If this is not done, then the experiment fails. Blake talks about falling from the golden spire into eternal death. This is a real possibility. This is the realm of existential decision, and it's not about confronting the government with massive force or publishing hortatory tracts or any of that, it's about doing larger doses more frequently and discussing it with one's friends. Perhaps this will develop into a much larger movement than it is, I'm not really interested in that, I'm interested in deepening the experience of the core peerage and that's the people who are here tonight -- none of us are loaded enough, at least I haven't met anybody who is and I certainly am not -- we must live the faith that we are trying to promulgate because it is done, as every shaman knows, by example, and therefore I would like to suggest to you, since we look pretty much like everybody else or a slice of everybody else wandering around in London today, that you look around at the people in this room, this is your peer group, you know, we are not of the same class, of the same colour, we have not originated from a particular line, but we are an affinity group and in the same way that every affinity group, every coherent social entity has had to claim its place in the sun, we have to claim our place in the sun. They're not handing out freedom to anybody, they're not handing out social respect to anybody -- ask black people, ask gay people -- the only way you get respect in this respect in this society is you take it, and I think this is the cusp upon which the psychedelic community now teeters. We were here before in the '60s and when they came with machine guns we just melted into the woodwork, nobody was ready for that, so now there must be a new strategy by stealth, by worming from within, we're not dropping out here, we're infiltrating and taking over because it's our world and our children's world and we're not going to see it run over the edge by a bunch of constipated gentlemen -- that's not the plan.
Well, I think I've run over here a bit, not too much, but I just want to reiterate to you because it puzzles me and it's the compass of my existence. This is not shut and jive, this is not another Swami or Baba or anything like that, those of you who doubt me I'd like to point out to you that DMT only lasts 10 minutes and I think it would be obligatory on anyone who thought they were going to carry out a critique of this position to just get that experience under their belt and once that is done rather than carry on a critique, I think most people will join up, because this is incontrovertible evidence, incontrovertible evidence of the presence of the transcendental in our lives. That's what I was seeking, never dreaming that I would find it. By the time I was on the threshold of it, I didn't believe in it, you know, I had accepted all that marxist crap and all that existential stuff and the reductionism of science and the rules of evidence and all this stuff they hurl at you, that's all malarkey. The thought I would like to leave you with tonight, which you can verify for yourself in the confines of your own flat later, is the world is not only stranger than you suppose, it is stranger than we can suppose, and I tell you that gives a lot of permission for supposing.
[question from audience -- inaudible]
Well, we're going to have a question and answer session here -- I hope you're first off the mark because that's what I'd like to talk about. The format for this evening is we're going to have about a 20 minute intermission so you can stretch your legs and exercise your consumer rights over at the book table, and we'll be hearing a couple of rave cuts that my voice has been slyly integrated into. First of all, these are -- this is an exclusive premier, by the way, these records will not be released until later this year -- re-evolution by the Shaman and tribal drifts version of Shaman I Am. So let's take a....
Question and Answer Time
TM: The question is 'What do I think psychedelics have...'
Q: No, no, what do you think happens to us after physical death?
TM: Yes, well, my answer would have to be based on psychedelic experience. I described in my talk this encounter with these self-transforming...self-transforming machine elves. And, you know, if you take this kind of experience seriously to the point where you actually feel an obligation to produce a rational explanation, then it would seem to me that in spite of its radical nature, the most conservative explanation that you could come up with as to the nature of these entities is that since they are intelligent, since they seek to communicate with human beings, perhaps they are human beings. And then the only kind of human being they could be is a dead human being and, you know, even I found that a bit of an intellectual stretch to imagine that what the push toward scientific rationalism was going to eventually lead to was an erasing of the distinctions between the living and the dead. But when you go to shamans and expose them to DMT and then say, 'So what about it?', they say 'Well, these are the ancestors. Didn't we tell you that we do our stuff by ancestor magic?' And then you have to say 'Well, then, aha, now I'm getting the picture'. An ancestor is a dead person, but you know in the DMT state, these things don't... it isn't Aunt Mini and Uncle Ned, these are far removed from any association to us and our world. You know, when Patrick converted the pagan Irish, he invented the doctrine of purgatory that had previously not been church dogma and he invented the notion of purgatory to convince the pagan Irish that their belief in fairyland in a nearby dimension inhabited by diminutive dead soles could be assimilated to Christian dogma, and this worked so successfully that then it was accepted as general church dogma and very successfully used to convert Slavic people as well.
So I think ... you know that line by W. B. Yates about 'Once out of nature I would be a thing of gold and gold enameling'? It's as though the transcendental object at the end of time which the shaman encounters, and the individual apocalypse of the human soul at death are mirror images of one another -- as above so below. That's why I'm always amused that people resist the idea of the end of the world, when you can be damn sure that their world is going to end, because some day they're going to slip beneath the sod, so we find the end of the world incredible and improbable as a notion, but it's actually guaranteed for every one of us. As far as, you know, any tried and true data on the after death state, I really couldn't say. My style is more to model and then to hope to improve models later. I did turn on a very high Tibetan Lama to DMT once, and he said after settling back on his heels 'It's the lesser lights'. What it meant for him was that it was a kind of near-death experience. He said 'You can't go further than that without the thread of return being broken'. So, you know, I think DMT is an excellent tool for studying death. I think there is very little reason to rule out the possibility that something survives physical death because nature is so economical, and with such variety of form, can memory and the perfection of the individual personality be all for naught? I'm not sure, I don't know, certainly it's an interesting question. I think, you know, a deeper definition of what a psychedelic life is, is that it's a life lived in constant preparation for death, the big trip, you know, you want to learn the way. This is what the shamans say, they say, you know, 'We're living people, who can go to and from the after world and this empowers us in a very special way'. Now, I need another question, but I can't see anybody.
Q: Do you still believe ??? in 2012?
TM: Do I still believe in the apex of novelty in the year 2012? Well, for those who aren't familiar with my work, when I talked tonight about the spiral of involution and the way in which each advancement into novelty happens more rapidly, I was not just whistling Dixie. I have a mathematic formulism which I chose not to bore you with tonight -- and you should be thankful I assure you -- which leads me to the conclusion that rather than a Big Bang at the beginning, 10, 12, 19 billion years ago, a more pleasing cosmology would be what I call 'the Big Surprise'. And the Big Surprise comes not emerging out of a pure vacuum for no reason, but the big surprise emerges out of the integration of complexity into one final holographic spin-down of all dimensions into a single point. I crib from your own Alfred North Whitehead informing these ideas, because Whitehead had this idea of what he called 'concrescence' and he said, you know, that the universe had an appertition for novelty, an appetite for novelty that moved toward a nexus of concrescence, and I believe that, yes, we are so close to the transcendental object at the end of time that really it is going to occur probably in late 2012. The reasons for being so specific are too complex to go into now, but I'll just give you a short of throw-away explanation which is that's the end date of the Mayan calendar. That's not why I chose it, but I later, after choosing this date, discovered it was the end date of Mayan calendar. Well, the only thing I have in common with the Maya, they took mushrooms and I take mushrooms, so it's almost as though, you know, this is the bar code stamped on the psilocybin paraphoniae, when you get it all pieced together, no matter where in time and space you are, there's this vector pointing at the early years of the 21st century as the place where we, where it becomes explicit that we are in a process of exponential transformation.
I mean, to me it's explicit already. I mean, I cannot deal with a city like London or Manhattan without saying, you know, measured against the background of organic nature, this represents some fantastic mutational phenomenon. I mean whether it's good, whether it's bad, who knows, but it certainly is peculiar and it certainly is happening very very quickly. That's why I think that it's a bunch bum(?) to think that you're suspended in a universe which will endure into some unimaginable future. As I mentioned a moment ago, each one of us is going to die, rather soon, so why not assume that whatever that transformation is it will be general, and then prepare to meet it as a collectivity, not the death of the rationalist and the reductionists where we return to worms, but, you know, the death of Blake and of Revelations and of the Tao Te Ching and the Tibetan Book of the Dead -- the death that is victory, the transcendence of matter. That's what death is, and what we need now for the good of the planet and for ourselves is to somehow find a doorway into the imagination, that's where the future lies. Our powers have grown too great to be unleashed on the surface of a fragile planet.
TM: Oh, dear, you know cannabis.
TM: Well let me answer that. The question is that I urged higher doses and greater frequency, and the question is: do I really think that endlessly revisiting these places has something to be said for it. Is that a fair re-phrase of it? Yeah. Well, I don't find these places readily rationally apprehensible. I go back and look again and again and I'm astonished every time, but I'm willing to entertain the possibility that I may be a bit slow. The thing about it is that it exceeds intellectual grasp, you know, you finally come against something where you say 'This is not an unsolved problem, this is a mystery, it will not yield to closure'. And one of the things I'm fascinated by is I think that the way we need to live -- or that's maybe too strong -- the way we need to mentally balance our karmic accounts is to not seek closure, to Understand -- for heaven's sake, I mean you're a talking monkey, where is it writ large that you should be able to model the cosmos in all its complexity and glory? Better than having an anxiety about the absence of a complete explanation, we need to live in the open-ended, risky but exhilarating domain of openness and just, you know, live your life under the shadow of the great 'who knows', because the tales that were told are fairy tales. Science is a fairy tale, you know, economics is a fairy tale, political theory a fairy tale -- nobody has the faintest idea what's going on. We are not in command of the situation at all. That, in one way, is empowering, because it means, in the words of the dourest philosopher, Ripo Yang(?) 'Worry is preposterous'. So all I would say to address your question operationally is, if raising the dose isn't making it more interesting for you, then, you know, maybe you should found a side branch of the church, because to me it's an ocean, you know, and my mind is a thimble and I go to the ocean and it's crashing in. I'm actually like an ant with a thimble, attempting to fill that thimble from incoming surf -- risky business, what? -- and each time I take away a little bit, but the richness of it, as I said, I think it exceeds the grasp of apprehension. Somebody else -- or did you, did you had a two-part question.
TM: The question is: do I really think this stuff poses... god, what a question to ask. It's like if I wasn't dangerous before, I will be after I answer this question. The question is: do I really think this stuff has a political efficacy, or is it just some kind of elitist masturbatory artschool trip that isn't taking us anywhere? Yes, I absolutely believe that the issue is a maintenance of social boundaries and that this is done through conditioning and propaganda, not rationally contrived because it's been going on too long, it's just how we are. We are conditioned to submit to powerful male figures, we are conditioned to value the material world over the inner world, we are conditioned to chase money, all of these things, and these.. you see, if you don't take psychedelics -- or at least in my case, there may be other ways to reach this -- but in my case, if I didn't take psychedelics I would believe that culture is truth. Culture is not truth. Culture is other people's trash, you know, the detritus of thousands of years of mistakes, that's what culture is, and I think [applause]... So, as to why I'm allowed to walk around and advocate this stuff, well, first of all have you noticed I use big words? That stamps me as an intellectual, the most pitiful creature in the human zoo and never to be feared by any power or establishment anywhere. No, I think basically the powers that be and the structures that are in place are like a dinosaur.
TM: Pardon me?
TM: Do I feel that they're going to carry on regardless? No, because you see, what's happening is that the contradictions in their system are reaching epidemic proportions. The people who run, I don't know, the Bank of England, the IMF, the UN Security Council, whoever, they have studies sitting on their desks which tell me that business as usual has been removed from the menu, that in fact the atmosphere is being destroyed, that in fact the planktonic life in the sea is in danger -- and that's the bottom of the food chain -- that in fact the toxic mess in the East Bloc -- radioactive and otherwise -- is insoluble at this point. So, you know, it's not heads who are alone in awakening to the fact that we are either headed for a nightmare of social collapse and catastrophe, or we are actually going to mutate toward angelhood, but, you know, blundering through, as we've done for the past thousand years, is no longer an option. Within the next 30 years we are going to have to discuss and contemplate things that would stand your hair on end and things that to people of another generation are going to seem incomprehensible. I mean, what are we going to do? Are we going to download ourselves into a supercooled cube of gold ytterbium alloy buried a thousand feet deep on the dark side of the moon and wander through an ersatz electronic wonderland forever? Are we going to atomize our consciousness and spread it to redwood trees and coral reefs and termite colonies? Are we going to build ships the size of Manitoba and depart for the galactic centre? What exactly is the plan folks, because business as usual is off the menu, and you know, in the '60s these substances were called consciousness expanding drugs, it was just a straight phenomenological description, consciousness expanding drug or substance. Well, if you take that notion seriously for a moment, then you need to stop and apply attention to this matter, because consciousness, the lack of consciousness is why we are going mad, because we cannot solve our problems. If there is one chance in ten thousand that these things actually increase in any measurable domain consciousness, then, by Henry, we should be leaning into it full bore, because if we don't get our act together, you know, the fossil record has a place for failed experiments and I'm not interested in that. [applause]
TM: No, I just think that's a description of the process I'm promoting from the point of view of someone who doesn't like it. The best and the brightest did desert the power structure because the power structure was essentially a merchant of plutonium, paranoia and mass death and propaganda. Yes, the values of Western civilisation are insupportable. The values of Western civilisation are held to the planet the way a madman holds a gun to his temple. That's what it's going to lead to. For instance, take something like free markets -- this is the clarion call of the politically correct at the moment. Free markets means the right to manufacture and sell junk everywhere, it means, you know, nobody will be able to say no. We don't want free markets, we want trade to be as difficult as possible and the more high tech and machined the object is the more we want to make it difficult to move it around, because what we must do -- and I'm not a luddite , I'm not anti-technology, I'm anti-materialism, we must dematerialise the accouterments of the culture. I can imagine a world where people live in idyllic pastoral naturalism, naked with perfected ageless bodies, it looks like an aboriginal high Paleolithic existence, but when you transport yourself into these people's bodies and they close their eyes, what they see are menus hanging in mental space and these menus are generated by an object on the inside of their eyelid no larger than a contact lens and that object is a doorway for them into a virtual global culture that is electronically instantaneous, multi-levelled, multi-sensory, transformative, you know, the complete database of the species on call at a glance, and so forth and so on. This is a reasonable technological goal. If we cared for it as much as we care for atom bombs and epidemic diseases deliverable by artillery shell, we'd have it today. So, you know, the wrong dreams have been executed, the dreams of the paranoia, the psychotic and the dominator, and what we need now are dreams that celebrate consciousness, difference, variety and empower meaning, because the philosophies and the points of view of the last thousand years leave you with a mess of pottage, leave you with no explanation. Our religion as a culture is incomprehensible to 99 per cent of us. I mean, who would care to stride up here and solve a tensor equation? And yet that's, you know, the holy writ. We are completely alienated, so alienated from ourselves are we that when we encounter our own souls in the psychedelic dimension, we mistake it for a UFO. This is serious alienation folks, I think we have to get back into the inner jeweled realm and make ourselves at home there. Is there a woman? Yes.
Q: [female] Inaudible.
TM: Speak louder.
Q: [still inaudible -- but in connection with 'emotional hangups']
TM: Are you thinking of a particular substance?
TM: Well, you know, we have to genuflect to LSD for what it did in the '60s, but I'm into plants, and I found LSD to be abrasively psychoanalytical is how I would describe it.
TM: In your experience. In my experience it was very different. Mushrooms, if they address your personality at all, seem to do it very gently. LSD -I understand why the psychotherapeutic community was so excited because LSD really did seem to confirm the models of the psyche that were current at that time. I mean, you did experience childhood memories, often traumatic, and you did re-live painful experiences. I don't seek to imply that taking psychedelics is easy or pleasant. I think that the phrase 'recreational drug' is extraordinarily pernicious. It is a path requiring great courage and self-discipline because, you know, the fear can rise up and haunt you and, you know, these things can come at you that are completely unexpected -- ecstasy is not to be confused with mere delight. I mean, ecstasy shakes you to the very core of your being because it's a coincidensia positorum, you know, it is orgasmic and it is terrifying and it is transcendental and it is mundane. I mean, it exceeds categories, that's what it is, it's the experience of the melding and transcending of categories. I don't think everyone should take psychedelics. I think that people who instinctively fear it are self-diagnosing themselves as mad and therefore they shouldn't take it. They're right, they know, they
know, believe them! Over here?
TM: Yes, I think you're quite right that it's a calling. Shamanism is the name of the calling and you know. You know whether you want to be an architect or a psychotherapist or a tennis star, and people know whether they want to be a Shaman, and those who do become exemplars for the rest of us. I don't think we need to make the mass revolution here, I think we need to empower a core group of people deeply and profoundly and that they know who they are. You self-select yourself, and make your way toward it over a lifetime. I mean, it is a path, and those receptors in your brain which make the psychedelic experience possible are, like everything else about you, under the control of your genes, so that it's reasonable to talk about affinities for this stuff, family lines where it is more commodiously integrated and received -- I think that's very real. We are biochemically unique, every single one of us, and this addresses that uniqueness. What these people who become the shamans must do is they must -- by impassioned speech, poetry, dance and theatrical display -- convey the feeling to other people. This is what the high Paleolithic was about, you know. We must share our art, we must open a doorway and some will pass through the doorway and some will stand and gaze through the doorway and some will only be enlivened by rumour of the doorway, but the doorway must be secured, made real. It's part of our birthright, it's the thing without which we are not ourselves. You know, I see history as the story of the prodigal son, we have wandered in the deserts of materialism now for two thousand years and our cataloguing, our relentless probing of the world, of the aboriginal, and the frontier of geography, has brought into our [END SIDE 2, TAPE 1]
SIDE 1, TAPE 2
TM: Okay, well I think of this talk as "Alchemical Youth on the Edge of the World", because I thought what we would do this morning is anticipate the psychedelic '90s, and talk a little bit about the youth culture that is emerging worldwide and some of the other considerations that the youth culture seems to be building bridges toward. Altogether, these various concerns seem to me to add up to a kind of neo-shamanism, or a kind of archaic revival of social forms, many of which have been suppressed for several millennia.
There are several facets to this new emerging psychedelic youth culture of the nineties. First of all, obviously, the ecology movement. This is something that was absent in the '60s, when the awareness of the approaching degradation and destruction of the natural environment had not advanced nearly as far as it has today. So there is a general awareness in the youth culture that its elders are handing on to it, a looted, polluted planet, in which very little planning or provision was made for the saving of resources for any future generation. So the ecology perception is part of the emerging social phenomenon as is feminism. Feminism has been with us now for about 15 years, but gone through various forms and rescissions and seems now to have taken the form that is very concerned to recover the religious attitudes that prevailed before patriarchy and history established themselves. In other words, we know that at some point in the past, 10 or 15 thousand years in the past, there was a partnership society which imaged its supreme deity as Gaia, a goddess of the Earth. And a re-awakening of the awareness of Gaia -- and this really goes to the ecology movement as well -- a reawakening of this feminine, ecological, earth-centred awareness is definitely feeding into the aesthetics of this new counter-culture that is arising. Now, another facet which is somewhat paradoxical and, perhaps on the surface, in seeming opposition to the concerns of ecology and feminism, is what I call "cyber-culture" or "hacker-culture". This means that a lot of people in the 16 to 30 year old bracket are very aware of the underground uses and applications of technology -- not only computers and virtual reality and game-making, but also desktop publishing, garage band rock and roll, and a counter-cultural record industry that often runs on very small pressings of very obscure groups and sounds. Nevertheless, this technological cyber-culture is what is making possible another facet of this youth culture, which is a specialty music, a transformed rock and roll, a culture-wide re-invigorating of musical forms and, of course, driving that concern is the rediscovery of psychedelics. Psychedelics which were very big in the '60s in the form of LSD largely, were almost lost sight of in the '70s and the early '80s when the management-oriented yuppie culture came along. But now, with ecology, with feminism, with cyber-culture in place and cross-fertilising each other, psychedelics have become the natural glue for this movement, and they are largely plants. What is going on is an attempt to recapture the shamanistic institutions and styles that existed before history, and this means not only cannabis -- which has been with us throughout the 20th century, throughout all the counter-cultural and alternative moves of the 20th century -- but also largely mushrooms, mescaline, and so forth -- special emphasis probably being given to mushrooms because mushrooms have gone from being an obscure tropical deep-forest endemic to being something which can be cultivated in any garage or cellar in the land, and many people are doing this. It's sort of an odd fact about mushrooms that the qualities you need to take them are precisely the qualities that you will inculcate into yourself if you learn how to grow them -- punctuality, cleanliness, attention to detail, so forth and so on. I really think that the mushroom-growers within the new culture are the alchemists of the new culture; their formula is a rye to mould and mould to gold, and thank God for them, because they then create the juice that fuels the creativity of these other concerns that I've mentioned.
Really, the psychedelics in my view should be seen as enzymes for the imagination or catalysts for language, and really what the new youth culture is attempting to do is to reclaim the language-forming machinery for itself. A culture can evolve no faster than its language evolves. What is unspeakable is unthinkable and consequently part of the task of the new spirituality of the neo-shamanism is to empower language to go into areas where it has never gone before, particularly the area of emotion. It's incredible how few words we have for our emotions when we have so very many words for even relatively obscure technical processes. So I see the psychedelics as functioning in two areas -- first of all to catalyse and empower the imagination and then, secondly, to dissolve boundaries between people. I mean, if you look at 25 thousand psychedelic experiences, the impression that you will have is this experience is one which dissolves people's boundaries -- it doesn't matter whether they're Hassidic Jew, a communist party apparatchik, a rainforest shaman -- if they expose themselves to these psychoactive psychedelic plants, they will call into question their most basic beliefs and assumptions. This is what gives the psychedelics their inevitable political edge, because the establishment and maintenance of boundaries is something that most societies are very concerned with and put a lot of energy into. This is why in the '60s the spread of LSD was viewed with such alarm by the Establishment, because it appeared that the machinery of right-thinking, Christian capitalist society was simply being dissolved before the startled eyes of its purveyors by virtue of the fact that so many people were calling into question the assumptions of the culture that they were inheriting.
Well, now we see something similar coming into being. Thirty years after the '60s we appear to be poised on the edge of another youth decade, another decade in which youth will set the social agenda for society at large and attempt to lead us away from some of the more lethal and self-destructive patterns that we seem to be so addicted to. Well, now, why is this happening right at the moment? Well, I prefer to think, rather than arguing rationally about it, that the reason the 20th century has been so repeatedly disrupted or enlivened -- depending on your point of view -- by these eruptions of the avant garde, the Bohemians, the beatniks, the hippies, the youth culture of today, is because unconsciously we are actually responding to the presence ahead of us in the future of what I call 'the transcendental object at the end of time' -- a kind of strange attractor, a kind of sociological black hole that reaches out to social processes in the act of evolving and puts a certain spin on them, calls them toward itself, so that history in the 20th century is not a random walk or a trendless fluctuation as we are taught in the academy. Rather, history in the 20th century is a triumphal march toward the revelation of a transcendental object that lies beyond the turn of the century.
Every time we take a psychedelic compound, every time we slip into reverie, trance or dream, we form a relationship, we encounter in mental hyperspace, the long shadow of this transcendental object. It's as though we've been moving along a surface for a long time now, many centuries, and now we are about to undergo a phase transition or fall off the cusp of the phase space. And this falling off the cusp of the phase space is, for those who experience it, a dizzying sense of freedom, a dizzying sense of penetration into a dimension that was previously sensed and dreamed of but which very briefly and occasionally comes forward to be realised. It's a gold age, similar to the gold age of Greece or the renaissance, but for us it has a different character because this transcendental object ahead of us in time seems like a kind of concrescence of all our hopes, fears and intuitions about what the future and the evolution of our species could become. This is, I believe, why the UFO has been such a persistent motif in 20th century popular culture. It's because we actually sense on the unconscious level a kind of approach of the end of time, a kind of closing distance between historical societies and some kind of truly mysterious, truly transcendental object that lies ahead of us in the future, in the near future. And again returning to the subject of the psychedelics, their role in all of this is that they seem to pick up and amplify that signal coming off this mysterious object hidden in the future, so that the contents of psychedelic experiences, when laid end to end in a composite, is to give a kind of picture of what this final scenario of global integration is going to be like. And though it is going to emerge as a phenomenon of culture, I think it will largely come out of not our cultural artifacts, not our technology, but out of human organisation itself.
It's not for nothing that the self-transforming machine elves that one encounters on the other side of the DMT barrier, that what they seem to be concerned with is the teaching of invocation and forced evolution of human language. I think that somehow the part of human organisation that is most likely to undergo an evolutionary transition is the portion related to the production of language. Even ordinary language, which we take so for granted, when looked at from the perspective of the rest of animal nature, is seen to be something very close to the thumbprint of God on the human world. I mean, you can take your dolphins and your ants and compare them to a Grateful Dead song or Milton's Paradise Lost, and it's clear that human communication is going on in a domain of glorification and completeness that is transcendentally Other when compared to all other forms of communication going on in the world. Well, then, isn't it suggestive that when we use these tryptamine hallucinogens -- hallucinogens which are strangely enough analogous to neurotransmitters within our own brains -- that then what we burst through to is the equivalent of a kind of shamanic finishing school where self-transforming machine elves -- apparently the animal life of this parallel continuum -- are urging us to perform some kind of transformational act on our own language.
Well, I had this experience for many years before I found anything in the world of human experience, ethnography, or art history that could be mapped onto it, and then in the early '70s I took myself to the Amazon and I discovered there groups of tribal people using a combinatory brew called Ayahuasca, a visionary brew made of giant woody liana called Banisteriopsis caapi and a small leafed plant containing DMT, called Psychotria viridis And when these two plants are brought together and brewed together for many hours and then boiled and concentrated, a very powerful psychedelic substance results and the people in these deep forest, rainforest areas have been using this shamanic preparation for thousands and thousands of years. When it was first encountered in the early years of this century, the compound was isolated and actually called telepathene. This was to refer to the apparent group states of mind that the people using this brew were getting into. Well, later it was realised that the compound had previously been isolated from the giant Syrian rue, Peganum harmala, and that the compound had already been named harmaline, so telepathene disappeared from the literature in favour of harmaline. But the thought is worth noting that from the very beginning the early explorers, ethnographers, anthropologists who contacted this folkway in the Amazon assumed that it had something to do with group states of mind. Well, what I discovered -- and I certainly wasn't the first to discover it -- in the Amazon in the early '70s, was the people in these tribal groups get together and they take Ayahuasca and their habit is to sing to make music, vocal music. They have no drums because in the Amazon the humidity is so high that no drum head could remain stretched more than a few hours. So the people use rattles and leaf shakers and vocal sound to produce what we would think of as beautiful tribal music. But what's interesting about this beautiful tribal music is after each performance, when you sit and listen to the people criticise the performance, they don't say that it sounded very good, they will inevitably make comments like 'I like the part with the silver bars and the blue dots, but I thought that the yellow could have been more intense, especially where it faded into the polka dot brown and grey section'. In other words, when you listen to these people in these native contexts criticise these performances, you realise that for them it's a visual performance, it's sound which, under the influence of these plants, is actually beheld, actually seen by the people within this culture.
Well, this was very exciting to me because, you see if you can see a situation from another person's point of view, in a sense you have become that other person; to stand in the other guy's shoes is to see the world from that person's point of view. It's a very different way of relating to language than the way we ordinarily do it. You see, the ordinary way in which human beings communicate is one person makes small mouth noises, the small mouth noises move across through the air as acoustical pressure waves, they then enter the mind brain system of another person and that person consults a culturally validated dictionary to see if their definitions overlap with the definitions of the person who created the sounds in the first place. Now, if there's sufficient overlapping, then we say that communication is taking place, that understanding is occurring, but it's always a very provisional and shaky kind of understanding. And as concepts become more complex, dictionaries become more incomplete and more divergent, and eventually two people of the same culture, they're discussing a highly technical question, may have no understanding of each other at all. Well, this is very different from the situation that arises if we could literally see what the other person means. It's not without implication for this argument that when we talk about perfecting communication, we unconsciously reach for visual metaphors, so someone will say 'I see what you mean', or 'She painted a picture', or 'his prose was luminous'. This means that we instinctively and unconsciously believe that meaning is something most clearly apprehended when seen, and one of the things that has excited me so much about the aboriginal use of psychedelic plants is they seem to be on the brink of evolving forms of communication which move out of the realm of acoustical neurological processing and into the realm of visual acoustical processing.
Well, this has tremendous implications for the new world order that the youth culture is seeking to put into place. Cyber-culture, music, psychedelics, feminism, ecology, the new spirituality, all of these concerns could profit and strengthen themselves by appealing to a visual language, a new way of processing what is heard. This is what I think art in the 20th century has unconsciously been striving for, ever since jazz and cubism and throughout the evolution of 12-tone row, abstract expressionism, rock'n'roll, pop-up virtual reality -- all of these schools of art and technological innovations in the art-making process are setting us up to be able to see what we mean at some point in the future. And this will deliver us essentially into the equivalent of a telepathic society. Now, you may have imagined telepathy as something different, you may have imagined it as one person speaking and another person hearing the thought composed, but this isn't it. Telepathy will be nothing more than seeing what the other person intends -- seeing meaning.
Now, why it is that when we dose ourselves with a human neurotransmitter like DMT, why we then encounter armies of elves teaching us a perfected form of communication, this is a very difficult question. When you go to traditional cultures, shamanistic cultures in the Amazon and put this question to them, they answer without hesitation when you ask about these small entities, they say 'Oh, yes, those are the ancestors, those are the ancestor spirits with which we work all of our magic'. This is worldwide and traditionally the answer that you would get from shamans if you were to ask them how they do their magic -- it's through the intercession of the helping spirit who is a creature in another dimension. Well, we may have imagined many different scenarios, a future technological and social innovation, but I think very few of us have imagined the possibility that the real programme of shamanism would have to be taken seriously, and that shamans are actually people who have learned to penetrate into another dimension, a dimension where, for want of a better word, we would have to say the souls of the ancestors are somehow present. It isn't, you see, as though we penetrate into the realm of the dead, it's more as though we discover that this world is the realm of the dead and that there is a kind of higher-dimensional world with greater degrees of freedom, with a greater sense of spontaneity and a lesser dependency on the entropic world of matter, and that that other universe is attempting to impinge into our own, perhaps to rescue us from our historical dilemma, we don't know -- perhaps shamans have always had commerce with these magical invisible worlds and it's only the sad fate of Western human beings to have lost touch and awareness with this domain to the point where it comes to us as a kind of a revelation. You see, I believe that the whole fall into history, the whole rise of male dominance and patriarchy really can be traced to a broken connection with the living world of the Gaian mind, and there's nothing airy-fairy about this notion; the living world of the Gaian mind is what shamans access through psychoactive plants, and without psychoactive plants that access comes as an unconfirmable rumour.
I believe that the social style of human beings 15 to 20 thousand years ago was very very different from the social styles of today. In the first place, people were nomadic pastoralists, they didn't stay in one fixed area, but rather they followed around behind their flocks. And there, in the manure of these ungulate animals that had evolved with the primates on the grasslands of Africa, was the mushroom, and the mushroom was acting as a tremendous force for directing the evolution of human beings away from that of the rest of the anthropoid apes and toward the unique adaptation that we see as special to human beings today. It was doing this through a series of self-reinforcing tendencies that are easily enough understood. First of all, when you take small amounts of psilocybin, such small amounts that no psychological experience is apparent at all, there is a measurable increase in visual acuity. Well, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that if a hunting animal is in a situation of high competition for resources and there is an object, a food item in the food chain, which imparts increased visual acuity, then those animals which admit that item into their diet are going to outbreak the non-mushroom-using population and gain a significant advantage by this means. Well, it doesn't stop there. If slightly larger doses of psilocybin are taken, still sub-psychedelic doses, you get what is called CNS arousal, central nervous system arousal. Now all this means is a sense of restlessness, an inability to sit still, a sense of energy and -- the classical meaning of arousal -- sexual arousal. What this means then is that those animals in the population that were more successful at hunting and at obtaining food because they were taking small amounts of psilocybin are now going to act out what primatologists call 'more successful instances of copulation'. This means a lot more sexual activity is going on and wherever you have sexual activity, it stands to reason you're going to have increased instances of impregnation and successful birthing. So, the second factor which builds on the first factor is the mushroom-using population will tend to outbreed the non-mushroom population, and it will tend, then, to survive into adulthood in greater numbers because of the greater increased success in hunting. The third and final factor, then, which pushed these mushroom-using primates into a position of ascendancy, is [that] psilocybin at the psychedelic dose level actually stimulates the areas of the brain that are concerned with the production of language, so you get spontaneous glossolalia, spontaneous bursts of modulated syntactically structured sound, and I believe probably that language was invented long before meaning as a kind of abstract exercise around the camp fire, that these homonoids and protohomonoids were doing for each other's amusement. So there you have a three-step process -- increased visual acuity means increased success at getting food, further doses of psilocybin mean more sexual activity with more instances of successful impregnation and birthing of offspring and, finally, contact with the language-catalysing psychedelic tremendum that even for people as sophisticated as ourselves looms as the most tremendous, shocking and challenging mystery in our world.
We have always been caught up in the anticipation of the unspeakable. The human adventure has always been a flirtation with these gigantic forces in an unseen dimension. This is what sets our religions going, this is what creates gurus and messiahs and scientific breakthroughs, it's that somehow we are in resonance with something much larger than ourselves, something which you could call the great attractor, the transcendental object at the end of time, the Gaian mind, whatever it is, we, out of all of nature, seem to have a special relationship to it and seem to be somehow both under its care and somehow involved in the manifesting of it in 3-dimensional space. It's that as we make our way across the historical landscape toward the sensed presence of this transcendental other, so it is making its way toward us through the content of dreams, psychedelic experiences, the careers of spiritually advanced people, -- the idea being that history, which is a state of extreme instability and disequilibrium which only lasts 15 or 20 thousand years, that history is about to be transformed or ended, that the factors that shaped history -- phonetic alphabets, male dominance, materialism, scientific method, empiricism -- these factors are about to be made obsolete by discoveries in the human and natural realm.
We, we the people of the high-tech civilisations, are like the prodigal son. We made a descent into matter. We have wandered many years in the wilderness. Now, in a time of great planetary crisis, we must return to the tribal fold. We must take what we learned from the peregrination into history and return to the tribal model with it. Only in that way, then, can we reclaim our sexuality, reclaim our identities and reclaim the planet for itself. The styles that have evolved within history, the styles of male dominance, concern for tracing male lines of paternity, private property, control of females, so forth and so on, all this has arisen as a result of the establishing and maintaining of the ego. The ego is the function of the personality that is most at home and at ease within the context of history, but really this is not a situation of mental health, the ego is like a calcareous tumour that arises within the dynamics of the psyche and lodges like a cancer or a tumour in the structures of the psyche. And the only cure or the only treatment that I am aware of for the calcareous tumour of ego is frequent repeated exposure to psychedelic plants. This is the essence of their boundary-dissolving function, and 12 to 20 thousand years ago the ordinary style of human society was, as I said, nomadic pastoralism and psychedelic intoxication on a schedule that was very probably lunar, so reclaiming that orgiastic boundaryless style of sexual relating is part of what the archaic revival is about. Obviously, with a population of six or seven billion people, we can't seriously suggest that we return to the sexual styles of a group of nomadic pastorilists on the plains of Africa who numbered probably no more than 50 or 60 people, but we can understand that the ego is a function that has arisen, in a sense, to empower our most lethal tendencies. Because as we look at the Earth as it exists today, with rising levels of toxicity and pollution and arms proliferation and so forth and so on, there are no problems that cannot be solved -- we have the technology, we have the money, we have the industrial capacity, what we don't have is the plan and will to execute the plan.
So really the change that we and the groaning planet are waiting for is a change in the human mind. It's the human mind that must change and then the tools for the restructuring that must be done will be found present and near at hand and, as far as I can tell, we don't have centuries or millennia in which to do this change and if preaching alone could have inspired it, it would have occurred several millennia ago. What we must look for is a catalyst that is effective, not on the easy cases but on the hard cases, and when we carry out an analysis of that sword, what we're going to find is psychedelic shamanism is the traditional human response to our dilemma. We must dissolve the boundaries of yours and mine, of inside and outside, even of life and death. We must dissolve these linguistically conferred boundaries and replace them with a sense of the universal flow of energy through a series of vibrating and resonant fields of being. This is the core philosophy that lies behind Shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, this is the perception of the perennial philosophy, and I believe that using the lessons of the 20th century -- what was learned at Auschwitz and in the Haight-Ashbury, and at Alamogordo and Nagasaki -- using the lessons of the 20th century, the new youth culture can at least create a viable human alternative. We're approaching the change of the millennium, we're about to go into the third millennium, and we can actually use the change in the calendar as the wind beneath our wings to lift us to a new vision of global completeness and of species and planetary holism that will then leave us the fitting inheritors of the birthright of the elfin empowerment.
I think we've said enough. I think we can knock off. If they can't get seven minutes out of that we have to renegotiate.
SIDE 2, TAPE 2
TM: ... damn well better stay away from psychedelics. No, I don't think everybody should do it. I think revolutions are made by 15 percent of the population and that you can have a psychedelic society and be a citizen of a psychedelic society and never take psychedelics, but the ambiance of the society will be psychedelic. You know, it's a calling, shamanism is a calling, and if you're not up for it -- my own biography is perhaps instructive in this, I mean the reason I'm into all this is because I'm into what's weird, I always have been. I mean, I've always loved the bizarre, the ourtre, the stuff of the edge, and you know, when I got to psychedelics I thought I'd hit the mainframe of sprung verse or something. I mean, if that's what you like, then this is your answer. You see, what the psychedelic is going to do is it's going to destroy your whole world, your whole conception of your world, and some people that's tremendously liberating, they say 'wonderful, at last I'm free of it', other people say 'My God, now I'm hopelessly mad, I have nothing left to cling to, I've really done it this time', and so that's almost an aesthetic judgment, whether you like watching your world shredded before your eyes and made into nonsense -if that makes you feel liberated and secure then you can sign up for that carnival. If that alarms you then I think best to stick to the tried and true. It's not for people of weak psychic constitution, and what shamanism is about is -- I mean, I know someone who says of the mushrooms 'My goal with taking mushrooms is always be able to stand more', and they don't mean higher doses, they mean more of what it reveals, and I feel like that. I mean, the mushroom speaks -- I didn't really stress this in my talk, but the strange, the confounding fact about these mushrooms is that they speak to you, in plain English, and this is completely unexpected. How can such a thing be? I mean, one is dumbfounded in the presence of this, and yet by being able to have an 'I/thou' relationship to this thing, you open up yourself to what is essentially a magical dimension, a dimension of ally-ship with this thing. I come to this completely as a rationalist, I mean I am more scientist, more rationalist than anything else. I am very uncomfortable with my position in the New Age, I hate all that stuff -- the quartz crystal suppositories and the channeling of dead Egyptians and all this horrible stuff which goes on, I mean it's just an affront to the thinking mind. But when I encountered these psychedelics, I said 'My God, scepticism is the proper path', and I believe this -- it's not to believe, it's to test. I said to the mushroom once 'Why us?', meaning my brother and me, 'Why us?'. And it said 'Because you don't believe in anything', you know 'You're not a believer', and so it's a real thing, it's a real mystery. It will not yield to reason, it's a tremendously well-kept secret. I mean, how can it be?
For instance, take the case of dimethyltryptamine, DMT. This is the most powerful psychedelic in existence. It only lasts two or three minutes. This most powerful of all psychedelics we naturally elaborate in our own brains. This is a curious fact. It means that psychedelics, to be what we call 'powerful' or 'overwhelming', are not chemically alien to exotic to the brain, but they are rather very familiar and very much like things already present in the brain. And when you smoke DMT the entire world is replaced in about 30 seconds with something completely impossible to anticipate and utterly astonishing, utterly astonishing, I mean the character of the experience is almost that of pure astonishment. I mean, people have said to me 'Can you die from smoking DMT?' Well, the truthful answer is 'Yes, by astonishment'. Death by astonishment is a real problem here and this is the rarest of all emotions. I mean, when was the last time you were astounded, you know, struck speechless with amazement? We have these phrases in our language 'struck speechless with amazement', but if it happens once or twice in your life I dare say you'll remember it until they lower the box. Well, DMT delivers this on demand. Well, what is so astonishing about it? Nothing less than breaking into an inhabited elf nest of self-transforming machine creatures who are squealing and squeaking in a visible glossolalia that falls like rain on the interior landscape. There isn't even ordinary space and time -- this occurs 30 seconds after availing yourself of this compound and you are restored to normalcy eight minutes later. It means these things are not far away, it is not destructive, it is not inimical to the organism, it simply is suppressed by culture. We don't understand how enclosed we are by the prisons of a limited and scientific language. True weirdness is raging just outside the confines of the cultural paradigm which is trying to reassure us 'Oh, it's all very humdrum and all runs down into entropy and I shouldn't worry about it if I were you'. This is not, in fact, the case. However, I digress.
TM: By the New Age?
TM: Well, I hope I didn't come off as terribly hostile, I'm sort of light-heartedly critical is where we're shooting for here.
TM: Oh, I'm sorry, yes. The question was 'Given my view of the New Age, what do I make of the appropriation of shamanism by the New Age and its marketing?' Well, if it's non-psychedelic I absolutely deplore it. I mean, I'm not here to name names, but I'll assure you the major marketers of non-psychedelic shamanism were turned on to the power of shamanism by their experiences with psychedelics and I take a very hard-core position on this just to infuriate people. I really don't believe there's any other way you can get there. I mean these yogic states and states induced by starvation, flagellation, celibacy -- all these tremendously pleasant methods -- are not to be compared to the psychedelic state. I don't know what those people are talking about. One of the things that concerns me is, people say 'Well, this is a spiritual path and you're a spiritual teacher', and so forth and so on -- no, I am not a spiritual teacher and anyone familiar with my moral behaviour can assure you of that. I don't know whether this has anything whatsoever to do with the spiritual quest as ordinarily conceived. My approach to it is it's a phenomenon of some sort that confounds our notion of reality. The thing which got me started on my travels and my career writing about all this was I had been very keen on Carl Jung and all that business and had been raised Catholic, and so when I smoked DMT I had the expectation that the most far-out thing that would happen, that could indeed happen, would be a kind of revelation of the Jungian archetype, the great round dance of the archetypes would be made visible. Well what was completely dumbfounding, was there was no relationship to the DMT flash, to the art history of the species. Our art doesn't hint of these dimensions, very aptly, and yet this is available to all of us. It's so suppressed that it's not even in the human unconscious. It's been suppressed below the level of the human unconscious. It's as though it's a lost world, a parallel continuum, and if you have access to this lost world, this parallel continuum, it would never enter your mind to invent mathematics, government, religion, all of these things, because you are in the moment, you are at peace with yourself and your community, and this is something that we have to make our way back to, because the disequilibrium of history has turned rather rough and ugly here, post-World War II.
TM: Thank you for taking your turn, you're next. Vitamin K, let me just say, and I say this because there's something I want to say. The word 'drug' has been tremendously misappropriated and corrupted by the movers and shakers of society. I mean we all, I believe it's safe to say, are repelled by obsessive self-destructive, unexamined behaviour and that's what is laid at the feet of drugs. However, chasing dollars or pounds, worrying about making a fashion statement, owning a Ferrari, all of these things are obsessive self-destructive habits, so I have a rule, a three-step test if you're thinking of availing yourself of a substance as part of your programme of self-growth and advancement. The first question you should ask yourself is 'Is it ...
Q: ?? afford it.
TM: 'How can I afford it', yes, well, that's zero -- moving on to one. Question one is 'Does it occur in nature?', and question two is 'Does it have a history of shamanic usage?' You see, if it has a history of Shamanic usage, then issues like 'Does it cause tumours, miscarriages, blindness, palsy?' -- this has all been answered, we have our human data, we have five thousand years of use by the Mazatecan Indians or somebody else, we have our human data sample. Then the third test is 'Does it occur naturally or do its near relatives occur naturally in the human brain?', because we don't want to insult the human brain, we don't want to toxify it, we don't want to poison it. Well, the happy conclusion of applying these rules is that the most terrifyingly powerful of the psychedelics pass all tests with flying colours -- DMT being the perfect example. DMT is a megatonnage hallucinogen -- it occurs naturally in the metabolism of every single one of us at this moment. If you were an American audience I would tell you you're holding a schedule 1 drug and are subject to immediate arrest and trial. Every human being on earth falls into this category. This is the Catch 22 that they hold in reserve if they ever have to come after us -- you are holding, and you can't stop yourself. The fact that DMT, that we return to a normal state in only a few minutes from DMT, argues that the non-invasive quality is very important. If you take a drug and feel wobbly 48 or 72 hours later or are having body aches or blurred vision or something like that, this is a drug to stay away from, this is not something you want to get mixed up in. You judge the non-toxicity of the drug by how fast your body is able to return you to normal. MK, which inspired the question, which is ketamine, doesn't pass any of these tests and I did it and I found the state very interesting, but when I saw the data on how it depressed the immune system and there's some concern that it may trigger epileptic kindling, I didn't think it was a good idea. Also the fact that you have to bang it, that's a bad habit. I don't think we should get into that because then it's a vector for disease and then pushes all kinds of the wrong buttons. Yes.
TM: You mean as opposed..
TM: Ah, well, the difference will not be great except in the dose ratio. I think liberty caps are per unit gram stronger than Stropharia cubensis, but still don't you have to eat a dozen or two of them?
TM: Three hundred! Ah ha, okay, well -- and good for you! Stropharia cubensis, I mean, in culture we've grown 170 gram specimens which when dried down go down to 15 grams. Well, what I always say is a dose is 5 dried grams, and I might, since we're on this subject, say something about technique, because I always forget this -- it seems so obvious to me, but it's a revelation to some people. The way you do these things is you do them on an empty stomach in silent darkness, obviously. I mean, you're looking for hallucinations, right? This is a hallucination hunt, it's a vision quest, so people ask the most bizarre questions, example: 'Will I be able to drive?' Now, there's the male dominator ego for you. In no sense of the word will you be able to drive. That's what's going to happen: you're not going to be able to drive, so just, you know, put that in your pipe and smoke it early on and give up the notion of driving. No, you should be in silent darkness, and some people resist the silent part and they say 'But, you know, I always listen to the Mothers of Invention on my ...' well, give it a rest, friend, you know, they're wonderful on the natch, so let the pythagory and inner music issue from your soul in silent darkness. You will be amazed, I mean if it bores you flip on the Top of the Pops, but give it a half an hour before you resort to that. Yes.
Q: Have you had any experience of ??
TM: Yes, well I see that the Guardian dutifully reported all one would need to know to get seriously involved in toad abuse. In America we hear about toad licking and it's always advanced as a folkway of the primitive Australians and we in America have gone on one better. First of all, we don't hurt our toads, we drive out into the desert in our four-wheel-drive vehicles and we gently milk our toads onto what we call the windshield -- a windscreen -- and then it dries in the sun and we get out our little frost scrapers and scrape this better-left-undescribed material off the windshield and then this is smokable. This is 5-methoxy-DMT from Bufo Alvarius, and it passes all the tests. Well, not the test as would occur in a plant, no, it occurs in an animal, that's better. It's interesting, it's one of the few animal-based hallucinogens -- we call it toad foam, as opposed to more inelegant appellations that have been used. It's 5-mythoxy-DMT, so it's a variety of dimethyltryptamine, but compared to DMT it's sort of like AM radio versus 70 millimetre cinemascope. There's what I heard a researcher describe last week as an 'effulgent emotion' -- yes, there certainly is. There's no word for this emotion, but it's very large, but there is very little visual activity, kind of after-image-like stuff, but you know on DMT the hallucinations have an existential veracity that's absolutely jaw-dropping. I mean, they are 3-dimensional, they are highly coloured, they are in motion, these elf-like creatures that one encounters in the DMT space are, I've described them as self-transforming basketballs, they are like jeweled basketballs and they come toward you and then they recede and they're singing in these silvery voices which make objects, they have a language which is visibly beheld -- a favourite theme of mine that we didn't get to tonight -- they make a language which they then present to you -- the objectified language -- and it looks rather like Faberge eggs or sorts of toys that alien astronauts might give their children to amuse them. I mean, when you are shown by one of these -- I call them tykes, these creatures in the DMT state -- when one of these tykes comes bounding toward you and offers one of these mechanised syntactical Faberge machines, you look at it with the perfect knowledge that if you could bring this thing across to this world, no stone would be left upon another, that there is something about it that is confounding, it is literally impossible and yet you're looking at it, it's in front of you, I mean the impossible is happening and, you know, this is a result of that. Yes.
TM: Datura. The question is about datura. I would think of it as a kind of deliriant, actually. The chemical family involved is tropanes. We don't want to get too technical here, but a good rule is when I talk about psychedelics I'm talking about indole alkaloids -- LSD, psilocybin, ibogaine, the so-called cyclocised tryptamines. I'm pretty narrow-minded about all this. Even mescaline doesn't quite make it because it's an amphetamine. Datura, the morphogenetic field that is associated with datura is one of magic working, of the spreading of delusions, it's often used in contexts where somebody is working their sexual will with somebody else who may not be into it. I remember what put me off datura was years ago I lived in Nepal and a friend of mine -- actually an Englishman -- I met him one day in the market and we were just making the small talk there, and it came to my attention from talking to this person that he thought I had paid him a visit in his apartment. He was under the impression that we were sitting in his apartment having this discussion, when in fact we were moving around in an Asian souk, so I thought this is a level of disconnection from reality that we don't need. The thing that's interesting about the indole hallucinogens, and especially about DMT, is there's a core portion of your being that is never lost hold of, that is always observing. And I remember on ketamine one of the things that put me off about it was this is such a reality-obliterating compound that in every trip you come to this moment in which you realise with the force of a revelation 'I'm stoned, that's what's happening, now I remember, I'm a human being, I'm on a trip, this is a trip, I'm on a trip'. And then it all falls into place. Well, what this is telling you is it's nearly over and that you were so cut off from being able to understand that what was going on, you could never remember that there had ever been anything preceding it, you could never anticipate that anything would ever follow upon it, you completely accept this impossible situation. So, I don't like that, I like holding on to this observing eye. Now this may be my own ego clinging to the last grain of ego, but nevertheless I think it's very important that there be a clarity of something throughout the experience and datura seems to erode that fairly seriously. Well, I'm getting the high sign. Oh, one more question. One more.
Q: You bandied chemical words around quite freely here ???
TM: Sorry, I thought you were permitting a question -- you're asking a question.
Q: .. chemical terms around, quite freely...
TM: Oh yes, oh yes.
Q: ... but many people feel that marijuana is a liberating agent. Is marijuana ??? hallucinogenics that you're mentioning?
TM: Well I don't know if 'poor cousin' is the word. Marijuana is the "except" to all the rules. Marijuana is a polyhydric alcohol. I can't say enough in praise of marijuana. I mean... [applause].. the lifeblood of my inspiration, and, yes, it's interesting. Sometimes I teach a whole weekend and this never comes up, I mean, we're all so well behaved. Here we are discussing these outlandish drugs, you know, when the fact of the matter is cannabis is our daily bread, and ...
TM: Yes, I mean this is this notion that community comes first, that there is a family, there is a tribe, I mean what people say... I observe this very closely because I got into therapy, strangely enough, with a therapist who I thought was quite brilliant except she knew nothing about drugs, which was a preposterous situation for me to be in, and so she said 'Well, now, this cannabis business, how many times a day do you do it?'. I said 'oh, by the dozen', and she said 'Well, oh, and how many years have you been doing this?', said 'Twenty five', she well 'Well, surely, this is ...' and it kept coming up, so finally I said 'I'll quit, I'll quit so that you see that nothing happens so that you won't be running around the countryside laying this trip on your patients, because nothing will happen'. Well, so then I did quit for two months, and what I noticed was a tremendous narrowing of my consciousness, to the point where before it was over I was staying up late nights working on balancing my cheque book and studying receipts and plotting how to chisel on the tax man with my receipts and just the most horrible mundane consciousness. Well, then, you know, you take a puff of cannabis and you think about Moliere's dentures, and the causes of the fall of the Trebizondian empire and the really important stuff of life, you see, rather than your own stupid ego trip. Back here I promise and then we're out of here.
TM: Ah, ecstasy. Well, I don't want to insult the local choice. I assume you mean MDMA.
TM: Too bad, I'd rather have answered the general question, I think ecstasy is wonderful. MDMA is problematic. Every drug -- some of the most bizarre drugs, like cocaine for example -- every drug when it makes its debut in the marketplace -- LSD, cannabis -- is hailed as a love drug, and so it was with MDMA. My personal experience was that it was never as good as the first time, which seemed to me a bad thing, that you know you want to learn, you want to work with these things, you want to be able to take them somewhere, and what I observed in America was people just took it to party. Well, too little is known about it to do that. There is considerable irrefutable evidence that it makes very long term changes on the dendritic processes of the nerve. My brother is a research pharmacologist, he did much of that work in Steven Parutka's(?) lab at Stanford. So as far as what ecstasy does, the subjective effects on the subject, it's fine, I'm all for that, but it doesn't have the clean bill of health that it would have if we could get it out of a plant and point to a culture that had used it for five thousand years and could point to compounds in the brain that it closely mimics. This is the division, this is what I stand for, I stand for the plants, the plants have souls, they carry the morphogenetic field of thousands of years. When you take psilocybin, it takes you, you are participating in all the trips that it ever induced in anyone, and this is a tremendously stable field of experiences. When you take a drug fresh out of the laboratory it has no soul, it has no story, it has no direction, it's a product of the demon artifice of man, and I prefer to put my hand in the large hand of the Goddess and make my way into this dimension under the aegis of the sanctioned vegetables that for millennia have always been there to fling open the doorways to vistas of pleasure and delight that would make you turn up your nose at the best Beverley Hills has to offer. Believe me, believe me, the inner riches are incomparable, and this is how we recover our dignity, by not being whores to Mammon and pursuing all of this trash that they're peddling to us, and insist instead on the maximising of human values, human emotion and human community.
TM: No, no, maristisan(?) is a fairly distantly removed precursor, you're screwing up my avalanche to conclusion here.
Q: Would you please say something about ???
TM: Well, we've arrived rather late at that subject, haven't we. Yes, well, I'll just give you the... I'm the purveyor of a bizarre notion which was told to me by an elf troupe. It's a formal mathematical notion that argues very strongly -- and had we had a second evening to get together I would never repeat myself, we would talk about something entirely different. I think that we are headed toward a planetary transformation within our lifetimes, specifically around 2012 AD, and this is not a political transformation, or a biological transformation, it's an actual transformation of the laws of physics themselves, that the presence of creatures such as ourselves on this planet is an indication of the nearness of what I call the transcendental object at the end of time and it is like an attractor. It is like an energy pocket in the epigenetic landscape into which we have fallen and that the fury of 20th century culture is indicative of our nearness to this globally transformative moment that will emerge out of ourselves. Essentially, we are going to shed the monkey, the linguistic creature that is symbiotic with these monkeys is about to disentangle itself from physis and realise some kind of angelic transformation. Very difficult for us to anticipate or understand. If I had more time I would say more, much more, but that's all folks.
I just want to say that to make these ideas real we have to overcome the very format that we objectify tonight. Any one of you could have sat here and done this. This rap means nothing if it isn't a democratically available mystery -- no hierarchy, no special knowledge, no specific racial background, no degree is necessary. This belongs to all of us, and I want to wish you well with your community-building and with the vision that is coming to fruition here. Very important, very empowering for the rest of us in other parts of the world. Keep up the good work. I hope you invite me back. Thank you very much.
New speaker: Thank you, Evolution have been delighted to invite you this evening. Have a very nice time and have a very safe journey home. Bye bye.
deoxy > terencemckennaland