Terence McKenna Live at the Fez Produced by Nicholas Hill for live broadcast on
The Music Faucet, WFMU-FM, East Orange, NJ
from The Fez, New York City
June 20, 1993
Well it's great to be here. It's been kind of a long day for me, so I may not be able to maintain the ordinary veneer of genteel, cultured affability. I may have to simply cut to the chase here.
You know, we've worked ourselves into quite a little situation here. We've got a rising youth culture, a government out of control, an environment that's all ripped up, and we've got no place to go. So, who you gonna call? My solution in a situation like that is to roll another one. [laughter] Because it's been my supposition for a long, long time that these vegetables that we're pushing around on our plates are actually trying to talk to us. And they're saying all kinds of things, among them some things which are fairly counterintuitive. It seems to me that history has failed, and Western civilization has failed, and dominator-primate politics has failed, object-fetish consumerism has failed, the national security government has failed. And so then, where do go from here? What kind of new world can we create? And what kind of guidelines are there that we can follow?
And I — you know, every time you come to New York it's obligatory to visit the museums, MOMA, this'n'that, see what's going on in Soho. The conclusion that I come to looking at this is that as we move beyond modernity, it's more and more clear that the real impulse of the Twentieth Century is towards the archaic, toward the primitive. Everything from Freudianism to body piercing, from quantum physics to abstract expressionism, from Dada to house music, is saying "BACK AWAY" from the linear, constipated world of print-head materialism that is what we inherit from the Western/European past. That style of thinking about life and human relations has essentially toxified the planet and allowed us to paint ourselves into a corner from which there is no escape.
Or is there? You know, a deliberate derangement of the senses worked for Rimbaud; it might work for us as well. What we have to do is go to the rainforests, the aborigines, and check up — check in — on what we have always dismissed, which is the world of natural magic and wisdom obtained through intoxication. This is what we've lost, and this is why our creativity is insufficient to overwhelm the cultural crisis which is confronting us. We have to stir it up. We have to mix it up. Ideas dictated out of the agenda of washed-up capitalism and science and religion is simply insufficient. Reason has failed. History has failed. And what we all have to do, I think, is fall back on ourselves. We have to stop waiting for the revelation to come from CNN or Time Magazine, and get lives! And what getting lives means is ignoring the idiotic laws that would dictate to us the kind of states of mind that we can entertain. [applause] You know, I'm sure it was alarming to Buddhists, but the Supreme Court decision last week that okayed animal sacrifice in a religious context was a door swinging open on the possible legalization of psychedelics. [applause] The concept of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is enshrined in the documents upon which this nation of ours is supposedly founded. If the pursuit of happiness does not mean the right to experiment with your own state of mind, then those words aren't worth the hemp they're written on. [laughter]
But the point of view that I've come to evolve out of 25 years of looking at this problem and churning through culture and so forth and so on is not simply a call for individual self-responsibility and a pulling away from these institutions. That's pretty standard fare, I think. There's something else going on which is worth talking about. And that is the fact that the human world is apparently under the influence of some kind of attractor, or force, that secular people have ignored because the only words to talk about it were the vocabularies of beastly, bankrupt religions. But nevertheless, this force, this unfolding agenda, this design which we seem to embody, needs to be talked about. Because I really believe that history is ending. And I've taken a lot of flak for that, because no one can conceive of the breakdown of the system in which we're embedded to that degree. It's a kind of transcendental faith that history is accelerating. The rate of the ingression of novelty into three-dimensional space is asymptotically increasing. The kind of knitting together that is taking place in the world is laying the stage for the emergence of new forms of organization, new properties of being. And I really think that the drama of life on this planet is pointed toward the time that we are living in, that we're approaching a symmetry break on a scale of the kind of symmetry break that occurred when life pulled its slimy bottom out of the sea and crawled onto the land. We are approaching the symmetry break where we shed the monkey, we shed the hardwired negative animal impulses that keep us chained to the Earth and deny us our dreams of completion.
History is a kind of indicator of the nearby presence of a transcendental object. And as we approach the transcendental object, history will become more and more hallucinatory, more and more dreamlike, more and more surreal — does this sound familiar to you? It's the neighborhood, right? [laughter] That's because we are so close now to this transcendental object, that is the inspiration for religion and vision and revelation, that all you have to do to connect up to it is close your eyes, smoke a bomber, take five grams of mushrooms in silent darkness, and the veil will be lifted, and you seen, then, the plan. You see what all these historical vectors have been pointing towards. You see the transcendental object at the end of time — a cross between your own soul and the flying saucer of cheap science fiction. I mean — the city of Revelations, hanging at the end of the Twentieth Century like a beacon. I really think that this is happening, and that what the — It's as though we are boring through a mountain, towards someone else who is boring through that mountain, and there will be a handshake at a certain point in time. We are moving, literally, into the realm of the imagination. This is where the human future lies. This has been understood by some people since at least the time of William Blake.
The remainder of this article is available on the CD-ROM.