Path: weeds!utopia!hacktic!sun4nl!mcsun!!fuug!anon
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: McKenna article
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Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1993 18:25:00 GMT
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This article culled from The_Independent_On_Sunday, a 'quality paper'.
Read, be entertained and enlightened. Or whatever.
11th July 1993. All typos belong me big fella.

A psychedelic trip up the ladder of evolution

I think we should deal only with the facts when we talk of Terence McKenna, 
don't you? I mean the Californian scholar with the theory about psilocybin
mushrooms and the development of human consciousness - that the psychedelic
experience triggered sentience in foraging, omnivorous apes and led them, in
the evolutionary wink of an eye, to put rockets on the moon.

Mr McKenna contends that hallucinogenic fungi inspired our primate forbears to
develop language, boot-strapping us up the evolutionary ladder to the brink of
self-realisation, and that this humble mushroom is now ready and waiting for us
to complete our ontological correspondence course, if we would only tear 
ourselves away from smack, crack, coke, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, cocoa
, uppers, downers and all the other bad substances we are addicted to.

He believes that hallucinogenic-plant gnosis is the lost key to our intellectual
, moral and spiritual development as a race; that all subsequent drug abuse is
merely an attempt to sarisfy our primeval urge for psychedelic union with nature
("an itch we cannot scratch"); and that cataclysmic change or certain extinction
awaits us. His theory states : "No perception without hallucination".

We are in a small house in west London. There are 40 people sitting on cushions
around the room, which is large and airy, full of plants, and dominated by a 
huge skylight. We all face McKenna, who sits cross-legged on a black leather
armchair, wearing a pair of baggy no-brand jeans and a T-shirt that says "DMT".
This stands for dimethyltriptamine, the strongest and fastest-acting organic
hallucinogen known to man (Mr McKenna will defend only DMT, psilocybin and
marijuana - nothing man-made). His Birkenstock sandels are placed neatly nearby,
and he wears black woollen socks.

A bearded academic type, Mr McKenna does not need fashion to prop up his 
arguments. His learning and powers of language slowly unwind and coil around us
, until eventually we are mesmerised, our token resistance crushed by the 
irresistible force of his rationale. History and nature; the psychedelic 
experience; prohibition of same by religion and capitalism; human proclivity for
"altered states"; Oriental and Western philosophies; it is everything you have 
ever read and more.

Botany, biology, mathematics, quantum and Newtonian physics, chemistry - if you
had trouble with it at school, he is sure to be au fait - all trip lightly off
his tongue, along with classical quotations. This is the McKenna 'rap', the 
reason why people have paid #30 a head to be here. "Hallucinogens are data about
reality," he says. "They are as dependable and as 'true' as any other source.

"We have to recognise that the world is not something sculptured and finished,
which we as perceivers walk through like patrons in a museum; the world is
something we make through the act of perception." He talks like a man reading
out his own thoughts in essay form; at one point he actually says 'paragraph
break'. Only he has no notes, no prompts.

Things move, gradually at first but accelerating all the time as his imagery
resonates more powerfully. When he answers questions his words are vivid and
his thinking clear and unhurried. He describes the Logos, where language is
visible, a higher form of communication, a type of linguistic and spiritual
evolution, and I'm damned if you are not getting a glimpse behind the dusty old
drapes of 'meaning' and 'reality' even as he speaks.

And it looks very appealing, this alternative world he imagines for us, this 
higher form of consciousness to which we are all party but which we so rarely
explore, largely because of our cultural taboos and farcical drug laws.

As we break for food and drink, I realise how fast his argument has proceeded 
and how far we have climbed, until we are right at the peak of this man's
thinking, way up there, floating off and gliding over such dense concepts. And
he has taken us all this way without so much as a cigarette paper in sight. 
Forty people, soaring on one man's imagination, logic and humour. Two hours have
passed like magic. "But the point is not to listen to Terence McKenna", he says.
"The point is to go home and get loaded." You don't need telepathy to know that
forty people are thinking : that's my kinda guru.

After the break Mr McKenna resumes with his theories about our evolutionary path
, involving a lengthy description of communication between octopuses. It is dark
, and on the wall behind him our host Danny, who runs an audio-visual company
called Project Love, is screnning sub-aquatic imagery. "Stronger doses, more
often", is Mr McKenna's chilling, or, if you prefer, exhilarating advice.

You probably know what I found most disturbing about Mr McKenna's lecture - 
apart from his voice, nasal yet piercing, a laid-back call to reckoning. What
bothers me is that, as a tax-paying professional, with Significant Other and 
five year-old daughter, great friends, a good home and neighbours, I certainly
do not think of myself as a radical. So I was worried because nearly everything
he said seemed to make sense.

Somehow I knew he would dare me to act on my beliefs, and he did. Commitment, 
that is what he wanted. "When are we going to come out of the closet?", he 
asked. And that is where I finally saw reason. I could get in a lot of trouble
if people thought I took hallucinogenic drugs. Ha, the psychedelic experience!
But he almost talked me into it. Phew, that was close.

Alix Sharkey

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