Terence McKenna (1946—2000)
“…what civilisation is, is 6 billion people, trying to make themselves happy by standing on each-others shoulders and kicking each others teeth in. It’s not a pleasant situation. And yet, you can stand back and look at this planet and see that we have; the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific knowhow, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us; the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary and we do not fight back against the dehumanising values that are handed down as control icons. This is something…I mean, I don’t really want to get off on this tare because it’s a lecture in its self but…culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions; churches, companies, tax-collection schemes and what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture, yet we glorify the creative potential of the individual, the rights of the individual, we understand the felt presence of experience is what is most important. But the culture is a perversion; it fetishises objects, it creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrely religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanise themselves by behaving like machines; processors of memes passed down from Madison Avenue and Hollywood.”
Audience member: “How do we fight back?”
TM: “I think that by creating Art - Man was not put on this planet to toil in the mud. Or, the God that put man on this planet to toil in the mud is no God I want to have any part of. It’s some kind of Gnostic demon. It’s some kind of cannibalistic demiurge that should be thoroughly renounced and rejected. By putting the ‘Art’ peddle to the metal, we really, I think, maximise our humanness…and become much more necessary and incomprehensible to the machines.”––Terence McKenna, 1999
"That's like believing that you understand Los Angeles, if you have the telephone directory. I mean this is the level of genetics today. They say they understand life and they have the telephone directory and they're talking about Los Angeles, cause they can look up - you know, where the genes are, the coding for the proteins. Does this is tell us anything about a broken heart, or a messiah, or a Hitler? I don't think so."
So, what we are trying to do is return the focus of the attention to individual experience. We have been slaved too long to ideology transmitted hierarchically and based on a tremendously alienating instrumentality. That's what science depends on now: a tremendously alienating instrumentality. What we need to do is empower experience.
Well, this is where the psychedelics come in, because citizens don't take psychedelics, because it's illegal. Neither do marionettes, neither do robots, none of these well behaved and mechanistic reductionist images of humanity take psychedelics. Because it's mis-be-haven. Misbehaving is a great sin. In fact its enshrined as the first sin, you’ll regard that the psychedelic issue was there in the Garden of Eden. And somebody misbehaved and then they got tossed out forever and their children’s children into the chaos of history. It's interesting to read in Genesis why this was. It was because “they will become as WE are“, says Yahweh. “They will become as WE are, if they eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge” I suggest to you, that this is precisely what we should seek to do. And that this WE, is the voice of hierarchy, the voice of paternalism, the voice of the male ego finally right up into the storm god, the volcano god, who lies back there in the origins of monotheism."
"We empower our experience by insisting on our authenticity. It's a wonderful thing to learn to be able to stand up and yell, "Bullshit!". I did it first when I was about 18 years old, and it was the meme of the hour. And it blew their minds, it did blow their minds, it was uncivil. It was uncivil. It lacked polity. It was rude, and crude and correct. Correct! Because so much is being slung and nobody is talking about the primacy of experience and the dignity of the individual. The dignity of the individual... We went a long way with this in America before we betrayed it. And it wasn't only betrayed by the clowns in Washington, it's also betrayed by anybody, who clusters themselves around the feet of a self proclaimed nabob. Because the fact of the matter is nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody knows, nobody has the faintest idea. The best guesses are lies you may be sure of it. And so, to pretend that one human being will lead another out of the dark night of ignorance and into the shining light of truth, is ludicrous, absolutely grotesque. A product of this empowering of the human image that has gone on through several thousand years of dominator culture. If you want a teacher, try a waterfall or a psychedelic mushroom or a mountain wilderness or a storm pounded seashore. This is where the action is. It's not back in a hive, it's not in the anthill, it's not knocking your head against the floor in front of somebody who claims that because of their lineage and who's feet they washed, and who's feet they washed, that you should give credence to them.
Knowledge is provisional. And we are yet to approach even the first moment of civilized understanding. The way it is to be done is by trusting yourself, trusting your intuition."
Authority & Ideology.
"Reject authority. Authority is a lie and an abomination. Authority will lead you into ruin. It's not real. And it isn't; Don't get the idea that it's this liberal rap about how everybody has a piece of the action. You know, the Jews know something, the Buddhists know something, the Huichol know something. Nonsense! Rubbish! Nobody knows anything. These are different kinds of shell games that have been worked out by priestly caste of people to keep things under control. Institutions seek to maximize control. CONTROL CONTROL! That’s what they’re into. Did you think they were in the business of enlightening you? ... saving you soul? Forget it! Control is what this is all about. And to the degree that we commit ourselves to ideology, we are poisoned. Any ideology -- Marxism, Catholicism, Objectivism, you name it. Rubbish - all rubbish. What is real is experience. What is real is this moment."
The primacy of direct experience.
"And so then what it becomes about is - What are the frontiers of experience? How much of that has been taken away from us by these dominators, by these priesthoods, by these cults, by these philosophical shell games. Well - a lot. That’s the whole story of history. Our growing unease, our growing dis-ease, our malaise. Is all about the fact that we are kept from the well-spring of experience. We are sexually repressed, you may not feel it but look back a hundred years to a world where pianos wore pants. Maybe we’ve made a little progress on the sexual thing, maybe not, maybe more or less than we think. But we are repressed in all of these areas and we are particularly repressed in the area that relates to the psychedelic experience; Because it is Raid to the dominator insect invasion. They cant take it, they cant stand it because it empowers the individual, it dissolves the cheerful model of science. It’s just exposed as you know a nice story. It enriches the accessible universe tenfold, a hundredfold, a thousand fold. It makes the individual complete within his or herself. And this completion of the individual is extremely destructive to the plan of the dominators. Which is that you will be a cog in a machine, you will participate in the life of an organisation, not your life, the life of an organisation. You will go to some bullshit job. You will pour your best years of your life and your genius and your hopes into this. You will serve an institution. You will serve, serve, serve, serve.
Well, it’s a bad idea for free people to go along with this; A much better idea would be to insist on the dignity of human beings. To recognise that the freeing of slaves, the giving of the vote to woman, the ending of public whippings; That this program of political enlightenment must also then include HANDS OFF on how people want to relate to changing their minds. We are not interested on being sexually regulated by the state. And we are not interested in being intellectually, spiritually, emotionally manipulated by the state. The state should STAND DOWN in this issue! The state is acting as the enforcing arm of the dominator culture, specifically a fundamentalist screwballs. Who, are horrified by all this, by the notion that people would claim the authenticity of their own minds; That people would stand in the light of nature and reject original sin and the guilt from Eden and the sins of the fathers and all this rubbish which is handed down.
What the archaic revival is going to have to mean if it has teeth is a re-empowering of the individual and a consequent lowering of the profile of institutions, especially government. We need to think about these things because we have bought into the idea that we have to serve and behave and be enslaved else chaos will engulf the world. We need to carry out our analysis of the situation to the point where we can embrace chaos and see that chaos is the environment in which in we all thrive. That’s how I’ve done it for years. You think I could have gotten away with this in the Soviet Union? I don’t think so. I require a society on the brink of social breakdown to be able to do my work. And I think a society on the brink of social breakdown is the healthiest situation for individuals. I don’t know if any of you have had the privilege of being in a society in a pre-revolutionary situation but the cafes stay open all night, and there is music in the streets, and you can breathe it, you can feel it and you know what is happening. The dominator is being pushed. It never succeeds, it never is able to claim itself but on the other hand history is young. We may have a crack at this.
"A global society is coming into being, a global society made out of information that was not intended to be ours but which is ours. Through the mistaken invention and distribution of small computers, the printing press all this stuff. Information is power and information has been spilled by the clumsy handling of the cybernetic revolution by the dominator culture in so that it is everywhere. Never has the situation been more fluid. Never have the opportunities for infiltration, insurrection and hell-raising been more present at hand. But we have to seize the opportunity. If we continue as we have then we’re doomed and the judgment of some higher power on that will be, “They didn’t even struggle, they went to the boxcars with their suitcases and they didn’t even struggle”. This is too nightmarish to contemplate. We’re talking about the fate of a whole planet. Why are people so polite, why are they so patient, why are they so forgiving of gangsterism and betrayal? It's very difficult to understand. I believe it's because the dominator culture is increasingly more and more sophisticated in its perfection of subliminal mechanisms of control. And I don’t mean anything grandiose and paranoid. I just mean that through press releases and sound bites and the enforced idiocy of television the drama of a dying world has been turned into a soap opera for most people. And they don’t understand that it is their story and that they will eat it in the final act if somewhere between here and the final act they don’t stand up on their hind legs and howl. And it's not done through organising, it's not done through vanguard parties or cadres of intellectual elites. It's done through just walking away from all that. Claiming your identity, claiming your vision, your being, your intuition and then acting from that without regret, cleanly without regret."