The Edge, By Terence McKenna, March 27, 1990
[Speculative, but what the heck…]
First of all, I am delighted to be here. The great thing about being here in New York is you don’t have to worry if you’re the smartest person in the room. What impels me to talk to groups like this is the conviction that a major aspect of what it means to be a human being has received short shrift in our civilization for at least a couple of millennia. And that, to some degree, the solution to the mega-crisis that is bearing down on Western institutions is to be found in a revivifying of the archaic. And this takes many different kinds of forms. It’s nothing to do with what is popularly presented as the new age. It’s, to my mind, a much larger and deeper and persistent phenomenon than that. In fact, the entire intellectual tone of the 20th century can be seen as a groping toward a recapturing of this archaic mentality.
This is what psychoanalysis was about. This is what cubism, surrealism, and—in the political zone—negative phenomena, such as national socialism. All of these various intellectual concerns, to my mind, can be traced back to a kind of unconscious nostalgia for the archaic.
Now, when a society feels itself to be in crisis, the unconscious response is to look back into time to attempt to find a previous model that seemed to work and then to crystallize energy around that model in an effort to reorient society. The last time this happened was with the breakup of the medieval stasis of the pseudo-eschatology of Christianity, and out of that chaos, that sense of disconnectedness came classicism.
In other words, people were looking back into time for a serviceable model that could step in to the vacated shoes of the discredited medieval church. And what they came up with was platonic philosophy, Roman law, the esthetics that ruled Periclean Athens, and so forth. To a degree we are still living in the twilight of that return to classicism, but it no longer serves. And in its place is this inchoate groping for yet another historical paradigm that can somehow be contextualized in the late 20th century and give meaning to the experience that is coming, is sweeping over the world.
Via the Naked Capitalism links entry
…Just reading this article can induce hallucinations…
Once you unleash psychedelics in the population the dreams that will be dreamed are large dreams, indeed. It’s very clear that within the next 50 years we will understand the human genome to sufficient depth to probably take control of the human form, we will become who we want to be. We will design ourselves into being the kind of organism that is consonant with our politics. Strangely enough, the only kind of organism I can think of that is congruent with our politics would be something like a mushroom.
A mushroom is a mycelial network through the soil. It has as many connections as a neuro network. If it’s a psilocybin mushroom it’s a network filled with neurotransmitters, yet it’s as fine as a cobweb. Look at how delicately the mushroom touches the earth; it lives only on decaying matter. But if it has menus inside of itself, then it may be living in situ, a fuller, deeper, richer, more feeling filled existence than we can imagine. So I don’t think we should cling to the monkey form. Shedding the monkey is a real potential possibility. Techno freaks will want to download us into a solid state cube on the dark side of the moon. I would rather download us into planktonic life and put us into the oceans.
Update, Reuters: Scientists use brain scans to find how magic mushrooms alter the mind
WaPo: Psychedelic mushrooms put your brain in a “waking dream,” study finds