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InvisibleKeru

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"McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) * 2
    #17904678 - 03/04/13 08:11 PM (7 years, 8 months ago)

PSYCHEDELIA

http://members.tripod.com/lysergia_2/psychedelia/index.blog/2308075/mckenna-reconsidered/

March 4, 2013
McKenna reconsidered
Now Playing: Terence McKenna "Tryptamine Consciousness" (1982)
A dozen years after his untimely death, our perception of Terence McKenna is still up in the air, still very much in a formative stage. Very little has changed in the way Terence is revered (frequently) and criticized (rarely). His person and work are treated as though he was still alive, an impression no doubt strengthened by how hundreds of his hypnotic lectures are broadcast around the globe 24 hours every day. In addition, no new figure-head has emerged within the field to extend, update or replace St Terence's gospel. For reasons like these, the psychedelic underground has clung to the McKenna that he himself designed and presented, with very little in terms of clarification or questioning.

When Terence's brother Dennis in 2011 announced via Kickstarter that he was embarking on a book project that would tell the "actual" story of his life with Terence, including unknown details about the La Chorrera experiment, the excitement was obvious. Many people including myself contributed to the funding of Dennis' writing project, which reached fruition via the book Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss published in late 2012--amusingly, very close in time to Terence's famously prophesized 'end of history'.

Prior to this, updates leaked out from the ongoing project, most notably via an Esalen Institute event that was also podcast at the Psychedelic Salon in July 2012. The fallout from the sharing of this book excerpt and the related conclusions drawn by presenter Bruce Damer were more dramatic than those involved may have expected. Many psychedelicists popped up to comment on the information revealed, some notably hurt or even incredulous. While this response may not have been the main reason, the most crucial paragraph was ultimately removed from Dennis McKenna's finished book. In other words, this information can only be gathered from the Esalen event and the subsequent debate. Even this podcast was temporarily removed from the internet, but it is now available again, presumably without any editing of 'sensitive' passages.

So what, precisely, caused this brouhaha? Here is what Dennis McKenna wrote and later removed from his book manuscript:

"Terence's pivotal existential crisis came abruptly. Sometime in '88 or '89. Everything that happened after that event was fallout. I don't know exactly when it happened and I don't know exactly what happened. I am piecing it together from what Kat has told me and she has volunteered few details and I am reluctant to probe. It happened when they were living for a time on the Big Island and it was a mushroom trip they shared that was absolutely terrifying for Terence. It was terrifying because, for some reason, the mushroom turned on him. The gentle, wise, humorous mushroom spirit that he had come to know and trust as an ally and teacher ripped back the facade to reveal an abyss of utter existential despair. Terence kept saying, so Kat told me, that it was, "a lack of all meaning, a lack of all meaning." And this induced panic in Terence and probably, I speculate, a feeling that he was going mad. He couldn't deal with it. Kat's efforts to reassure him were fruitless. After that experience, he never again took mushrooms and he took other psychedelics such as DMT and Ayahuasca only on rare occasions and with great reluctance."

Those well familiar with Terence McKenna's career will appreciate the loaded nature of this revelation. In case one fully does not realize the implications of it, Esalen speaker Bruce Damer goes to some length to high-light how Terence's terrifying shroom trip affects the impression of his last decade. What has upset and troubled many Terence fans is the realization that while the man travelled around the world advocating the use of 'heroic dose' psilocybin trips for crowds of thousands, he himself had been scared so badly by a mushroom trip that he gave up shrooms altogether. And this double book-keeping went on for 10 years. Privately Terence would question the value of his teachings and his role, but in public there is no notable shift whatsoever in his message before the terrifying trip in the late '80s, and after it. A person with a critical mindset could draw strongly negative conclusions from this, and even through the most benign lense, it is a troubling revelation.

But there is another aspect to this recent information that I personally find more troubling than the masquerade that has caused Terence fans to feel confused or betrayed. From a few additional comments made at the Esalen gathering, it appears that the theme of Terence's dramatic bad trip dealt with his emotional involvement with other people, a private conundrum which brother Dennis in his book traces back to an event involving their father in Terence's childhood. While charming and extrovert in his role as a bardic performer, Terence apparently strove to avoid any deeper private relationships, and the mushroom 'spirit' (or his own subconscious) presumably took him to task for this unfulfilled aspect of his life. This would be a fairly typical admonition towards self-improvement to receive under psychedelics, and any experienced psychedelicist--and this would certainly include Mr McKenna--knows that there's nothing to do but roll with the punches when you're getting roughed up for your shortcomings as a human being. Yet it seems that Terence could not accept or handle this one, and instead he did the classic beginners mistake of rejecting the warning message. Rejection, denial or other defensive responses will unfailingly trigger the negative spiral of a bad trip, at the end of which one may find an existential abyss like the one described above.

The crucial point of this scenario isn't that Terence had a bad trip, but that he couldn't handle the criticism that Innerspace levelled at him. Such a reaction is not something you would expect to find in a person with 25+ years of heavy psychedelic trips behind him. The psychodynamic cleansing of inner wardrobes and private skeletons is something you tend to deal with at the beginning of the psychedelic career, not towards the end. The question being raised, and this is what troubles me, is whether Terence McKenna had gone through all his psychedelic adventures without ever actually facing an inner confrontation of personality, defenses and hang-ups that is crucial to further spiritual growth on the path of the trip. Is it even possible to chew down 5 grams of dried Cubensis for two decades and never having to pass the rough crash course in self-improvement referred to as 'Gnothi Seauton [Know Thyself] 101' in the Psychedelia book?

Terence McKenna repeatedly rejected LSD due to what he called its 'abrasively psychoanalytic' nature. I never quite understood what he meant, but the new information from brother Dennis & co suggests that what Terence referred to was not some intrinsic flaw in LSD, but rather that the acid kept bringing him to doors that he was not interested in opening. To whatever degree these things can be generalized, it seems that LSD per se offers a structured progression in which the psycho-dynamic baggage must be dealt with in order to reach further heights, or else it will be a meaningless experience of funny colors, emotional stalemate, or even a bad trip. The beloved Psilocybin and DMT however, while they insist on self-improvement just as strongly, will still offer plenty for the mind to work with, even if the door to Gnothi Seauton 101 remains closed. The Mushroom Voice ('the Logos') and the various entities will still be there and happy to impart wisdom and dialogue which has no bearing on the inner emotional imbalances of the tripper: even without cleansing there will be a show. And Terence, the self-confessed 'vision freak', was all about the impersonal presentations in Innerspace, from the sight of gigantic spaceships to conversations with little elfs about the future of language.

Is it possible that someone, a person of a brilliant mind, could spend 25 years in the farther reaches of Innerspace and never once face the forceful demands on inner cleansing and self-improvement? If this was the case with Terence McKenna, and it does seem to match the new insights that have emerged, then a plate loaded with food for thought has just been served. Not just concerning the man himself and the nature of his personality, but also about the long-term relationship between psychedelicists and Innerspace, the supposed aquisition of wisdom from these experiences, and the possible need for a more directed or explicit model for beginning acidheads. It is vital to go through Gnothi Seauton 101, the earlier the better, and the longer you try to evade it, the harsher it will ultimately become. As Terence McKenna seems to have learned the hard way.


Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 17:13 CET
Updated: March 4, 2013 21:21 CET


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Offline2bakednate
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Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: Keru]
    #17904864 - 03/04/13 08:47 PM (7 years, 8 months ago)

That was a good read, definitely has me thinking a bit, i never new about terrence having such a bad trip that he stoped taking mushrooms...that blows my mind for some reason.


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"The reason is for us all"


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InvisibleKeru

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 301
Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: 2bakednate]
    #17905319 - 03/04/13 10:05 PM (7 years, 8 months ago)

He often spoke about psychedelics being much more historical, challenging, chaotic, and reality-shattering than how they are framed in the various medical paradigms (as psycholytic tools for personal therapy).

Unless I read or hear more evidence about his emotional and traumatic aversion to the soul-searching trips, I can only assume that he merely turns his nose up to them, viewing those variety of experiences as something elementary, juvenile, and undeveloped - in contrast to the Ferdinand Magellan and "cosmic fishing" approach he encouraged.

In many ways, encountering what Jung called the Shadow, is unavoidable if one travels deep enough. It's just one of those bridges or doors you have to pass through. McKenna most likely interacted with and learned from his own, but just chose not to continually revisit it in a compulsive "I-need-to-heal-my-childhood" ordeal.

Thoughts?


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OfflineEDM
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Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: Keru]
    #17905352 - 03/04/13 10:10 PM (7 years, 8 months ago)

One of my favorite videos of him speaking was about how all societies have always had a drug that they demonized and a drug of choice.


--------------------
Yahweh is lying to you... I will show you the way. Trust me.




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OfflinebeforeIgetold
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Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: Keru]
    #19035831 - 10/26/13 02:49 PM (7 years, 1 month ago)

Quote:

Keru said:
He often spoke about psychedelics being much more historical, challenging, chaotic, and reality-shattering than how they are framed in the various medical paradigms (as psycholytic tools for personal therapy).

Unless I read or hear more evidence about his emotional and traumatic aversion to the soul-searching trips, I can only assume that he merely turns his nose up to them, viewing those variety of experiences as something elementary, juvenile, and undeveloped - in contrast to the Ferdinand Magellan and "cosmic fishing" approach he encouraged.

In many ways, encountering what Jung called the Shadow, is unavoidable if one travels deep enough. It's just one of those bridges or doors you have to pass through. McKenna most likely interacted with and learned from his own, but just chose not to continually revisit it in a compulsive "I-need-to-heal-my-childhood" ordeal.

Thoughts?




I think it must have been tougher than just that... Of course depending on your individual childhood trauma, it's not that much too handle. I got swept right into dealing with childhood on my first trip.
And as McKenna says in one of the introductory lectures on how to approach psychedelics, he says that the earlier trips tend to deal with all the bad/hard stuff so once you get past that, you'll find it easier to plunge into the depths of your mind.

Having said that... I guess I wouldn't want to see what that utter despair was all about, it must really have been terrible :/ Maybe he saw something that made him doubt every single thing he had learned about himself or the universe inside up until then?


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OfflineSaint Marcus
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Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: beforeIgetold]
    #19043387 - 10/28/13 12:32 AM (7 years, 1 month ago)

I knew he had a very tough experience and that he had stopped for a while. I did not know that he stopped for good though. This makes a lot of sense to me now. Why he viewed LSD the way he did. Lots of food for thought thank you OP


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OfflineTheGreenArrow
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Re: "McKenna Reconsidered" (March 4, 2013) [Re: Saint Marcus]
    #19044647 - 10/28/13 09:07 AM (7 years, 1 month ago)

I didn't know Dennis didn't include this in his book. I remember hearing the interview a while back.  I seems ridiculous to not include this in the book.  What a joke.


--------------------
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an
invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a
sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the
dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an
equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a
computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.- Robert A. Heinlein
Saint RedBow of the Shroomey Loomey-Patron Saint of Sandbaggin Sumbitchs


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