Podcast 174 – “Pushing the Envelope”


Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


[NOTE: All quotes below are by Terence McKenna.]

“The thing is that it is incredibly frustrating to anyone who would control it [the Internet], because you can’t predict the impact of any technology before you put it in place.”

“Hans Moravic says about the rise of Artificial Intelligence, we may never know what hit us.”

“If I were to suddenly find myself a sentient AI on the Net, I would hide. I would hide for just a few cycles while I figured out what it was all about and just exactly where I wanted to push and where I wanted to pull.”

“All time is is how much change you can pack into a second.”

“You can stand back and look at this planet and see that we have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love, and the community to produce a kind of human paradise.”

“It [culture] invites people to diminish themselves, and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines, meme processors of memes passed down from Madison Avenue, and Hollywood, and what have you.”

“Man was not put on this planet to toil in the mud. Or the god who put us 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.”

“It was the fall into history that enslaved us to the labor cycle, to the agricultural cycle. And notice how fiendish it is.”

“This is a society, a world, a planet dying because there is not enough consciousness, because there is not enough awareness, enough coordination of intent-to-problem. And yet, we spend vast amounts of money stigmatizing people and substances that are part of this effort to expand consciousness, see things in different ways, unleash creativity. Isn’t it perfectly clear that business as usual is a bullet through the head?”

“To me it begins and ends with these psychedelic substances. The synergy of the psilocybin in the hominid diet brought us out of the animal mind and into the world of articulated speech and imagination.”

“Having lived long enough to go at least once or twice around the block, I’m noticing that the strangeness is not receding The strangeness seems to be accelerating.”

“I started out in psychedelic drugs, and people said it was a flight from reality. It still is a flight from reality, but I think reality is now a bit more scary than the drugs we used to fly from it, so long ago.”

“It’s getting funnier because everybody’s categories are disintegrating, and the cult of political correctness dictates that we never point out that other people don’t make sense.”

“Beauty is self-defined, perceived and understood without ambiguity, and beauty is the stuff that lies under the skins of our individual existences.”

“The momentum now is inevitable. Now it’s about each of us individually arranging the furniture of our own mind to deal with what has become inevitable.”

“What is happening here is we are living past the age, by the millions, living past the age where cultural values make any sense at all.”

“When your time is turned into money, the felt presence of immediate experience is analogous to being enslaved. I mean, let’s be frank about it, it is enslavement.”

“The message coming back at all of us is: live without closure.”


PCs – Right click, select option
Macs – Ctrl-Click, select option

Transcript of this Talk

Video of Bruce Damer’s EvoGrid

Permutation City by Greg Egan This is the book Terence spoke about in this podcast.

Posted in Consciousness, Creativity, Environment, Eschaton, Evolution, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Terence McKenna (mp3) and tagged , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Comments from original blog page: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=1062

    Lorenzo maybe i`m not listen right (or crazy!) but this podcast doesn`t contain any of the segment that I posted recently! Which is great because I didn`t heard this talks before! Many thanks again for this podcast, your words for some reason give me some more hope!

    Yes, now I recognize, this Q&A is from the audio link that I posted a few weeks ago “Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines” thanks for posting Lorenzo

    That was great. Alison’s comments were very good to hear. My favourite podcast for a while.

    I’d love to hear more from Alison.

    Very insightful, and it’s always interesting to hear from the feminine perspective, which seems almost absent in the realm of psychonautic discussion.

    Thank you very much for indulging me, Felix and Norom!! What generous listeners you are!

    I’m not convinced it all holds together really, especially when I was reading it out and started disagreeing with it! I’m a bit of a one for thinking in terms of yin and yang. The music I’m listening to now, for example – the yang is the repetitive beat, a reliable and reassuring structure, while the yin is the tendrils of gorgeousness that erupt from the beat like weeds bursting through cracks in the concrete. The music I like best always plays with this contrast. I’d hate too much of one or the other.

    One of the weekend papers here in the UK included a section on “How to understand people” – needless to say it was psychology-lite and you’d get more depth on most drug forums, but it struck me skimming through that the Myers-Briggs test and the theory of Type A and B personalities could all be summed up quite neatly in terms of yin and yang!! – or maybe that’s just me!

    As for artificial intelligence and so on, I suppose the reason I don’t buy it is that it’s based on the idea that consciousness arises from matter, when the first thing I “realised” with psychedelics is that it’s the other way round. (Despite the fact that we’ve been brought up in a culture that tells us our brains are these ugly jellyfish that somehow spark and fizzle and create this mysterious entity that I call “me”.)

    Erm I am Alison by the way – sorry :0)

    Alison, thanks for adding your thoughts at the end of the podcast! We DO need to hear from more women. And I thought your Ying and Yang discussion was great, and not too generalized at all. Maybe sometime you could say a bit about some of Terence’s ideas about eros and his take on male-female relationships… I’ve heard some women get a little exasperated with a perceived flight from monogamy among some of the males in the psychedelic community. (More than the other way around, anyhow).

    Thanks again,

    I disagree. The internet is a wealth of collective information that does not exist in physical form, much like consciousness, and I think if AI was to sprout from the internet it would do so from this non-physical collective aspect. Our brains contain tons of neurons which are redundant mechanisms similar to the average computer connected to the net – and redundancy boosts reliability of any system.

    Or maybe consciousness and matter are like yin and yang – one causes the other. I think I just confused myself 🙂

    Ah but libraries have been a wealth of collective information for centuries without suddenly taking on independent consciousness(unless the one at Alexandria actually committed suicide from spontaneous self-combustion?)… and computers aren’t as clever as they look. It’s all very well Terence saying they’re talking to each other all night and no one knows what they’re saying, but if you could be bothered you could actually analyse what they’ve been saying and it would all boil down to a load of 0s and 1s!!! It’s not as though the ideas on the Internet have been answering themselves, it takes people to do it, or to program computers to look as though they can do it. It may look miraculous, but none of it beats (sorry for the cliche) an acorn growing into an oak tree. I’m sure the real consciousness that will take over is that of plants, not machines, however much we humans flatter ourselves that we are on the threshold of realising God-like powers to create awareness with a life of its own.

    DISCLAIMER – When this thread starts answering itself overnight and I wake up to find my laptop screaming “So what did you say about us, BIATCH?!” I will explain that I only wrote this in the spirit of debate and knew Mindhack was right all along!!!!!!!!! :-000

    This podcast really got me thinking. Heck, they always do, but I usually don’t get around to commenting on them. I hope this one hasn’t fallen too far down the list for anyone to notice! :–)
    First, here’s a couple of quotes from the podcast:
    “What [cultures are] trying to do is produce closure, which then somehow makes a human being, who is living in the light of closure, a more manipulateable, a more malleable, a lesser thing.”

    “…they [psychedelics] pull the plug on the myth of cultural meaning.”
    So, the powers-that-be can manipulate us because culture has made us “malleable”, but psychedelics are an antidote to this scam. Earlier, Terence introduces “the felt presence of experience — the reclaiming of the body” as the prime candidate to replace culture, and give us a new basis for our operating system. (I might have this wrong, but it’s at least close to right, I think.)

    But Terence goes on to say this:
    “When your time is turned into money, the felt presence of immediate experience is analogous to being enslaved — let’s be frank about it — is enslavement.”

    I think this quote is a good example of how “the felt presence of immediate experience” can sometimes be a limiting way to measure the quality of how a life is being lived. In order to agree with McKenna here, I would really have to ignore some pretty heavy emotional and psychological differences that would exist between a person getting paid (and being able, to an extent that would vary, case by case, to quit the job) and a person who is compelled by force to do work. We can say what we want about money, and the side-effects of its existence–but I think its a big step up from the physical/psychological pressure, even torture, of slavery.

    I know that Terence was maybe getting a bit carried away (let’s face it, we all hate the powers-that-be, and look what a mess they’ve gotten us into again…). But I want to just move on to one more quote. This is from the very end of his talk:

    “Now we’re ready to make another leap… How this is done depends essentially on the collective state of mind — how malleable it is, how phobic of closure it is, how open it is to the Logos, to the downloading of universal intent into Human understanding (which is what I would call the Logos), and finally, how deeply it operates in the light of Eros. How much love is there in this culture?”

    There’s that word “malleable” again, first in the list. Of course, if we will ultimately need Love to unite us and ‘save us from history’, then we need be very careful in discerning “shit from shinola”, as Terence often mentioned. But is being “malleable” really the best state of mind for determining the universal intent? Sometimes, I’m sure it would be–we would have to flexible enough to break old habits. But might we get carried away by malleability (and ‘surrender’) to what seems like one heck of a social transformation, with wide-ranging ramifications? Isn’t the big picture going to be about a lot more than “the felt presence of immediate experience”? Isn’t love about more than that?

    Terence talking about “the felt presence of immediate experience” reminds me of a common self-help meme that’s been spreading around a lot lately (thanks especially to Eckhart Tolle), the idea of “living in the moment”. I’m not totally against this meme, but I think it’s a bit intoxicating in its simplicity. I think it is easy for people to mistake what’s really going on when their consciousness becomes disconnected from the past, future, and events beyond immediate experience. I think this might be at the heart of why Terence said what he did about slavery. Being “present, in the moment” is an excellent technique for stress, and (I imagine) an extremely effective technique for dealing with trauma–but only an extremely subtle interpretation would make it an appropriate choice in the presence of confidence men and the gentler, more cunning urgings of the powers that be. I think a lot of people might just become more susceptible to manipulation, along the way.

    Anyhow, that’s my two cents. If anyone else has any opinions on this, please say a little something. :–)
    Jeez, actually it’s a long comment, more than two cents, I’d be gratified if someone just mentioned they made it to the end of it!

    I made it to the end of it!!! And I especially like “I think it is easy for people to mistake what’s really going on when their consciousness becomes disconnected from the past, future, and events beyond immediate experience” – I’d definitely agree with that. I guessTerence’s aim was to stress how psychedelics make it possible to experience true authenticity, just for a while – to feel what it’s like to really be the centre of your own universe, without all the clamouring demands and white noise and devious seductions of culture. And I think experiencing this, even momentarily, does help us to navigate our lives with more intuitive wisdom.

    As for your question about Terence and monogamy, I must have picked the wrong podcasts because I haven’t come across much of this yet, apart from an occasional reference to mushrooms = orgiastic society = everyone happy. Well, maybe he’s right! I once visited a reconstruction of an Iron Age fort and apparently the women were shared by the men – perhaps because the men didn’t last long, and/or were often away, what with hunting, battles etc. For a moment I imagined a constant supply of hunky heroes, hurraaahh!!! – but then realised the reality was probably more like some toothless smelly bloke pissed-up on mead lurching over – “It’s you tonight, Blodwyn” and me thinking “Oh great. I wish my knitting skills were needed elsewhere” and hating being stuck in the same sooty old hut, year in year out.

    I was monogamous myself for 17 years but don’t necessarily think it’s a natural way to live, especially now that our life expectancy is so long. I suppose we just don’t have many models of happily orgiastic societies to go on. The 60s were, I think, far more sexually liberating for men than women, mainly because we’d come from such a long tradition of women being told what to do and being despised for stepping out of line. If Robert Lawlor’s book “Voices of the First Day” can be relied upon, the Australian aboriginals had it right, with sexual intimacy being seen as a sacred exchange of energy that could take place across all levels, bonding the group. But I think for that to work requires us all to have grown up in a healthy, balanced , natural way – which of course, generally, we haven’t…. so any attempt to live that way would result in abuse, those with a strong sense of entitlement dominating those who aren’t sure what’s going on.

    If it all boils down to finding a way for everyone to love as they wish with no one being pressured against their will, then maybe psychedelics are the way for us to acquire the instinctive sensitivity that this would require in order to work… but I can’t help feeling it’s not as simple as that and that Blodwyn scenario keeps popping into my mind! Basically we need to grow up as aboriginals, not disconnected in the way that we are from Nature and from ourselves. Maybe if everything goes pop in 2012, if there’s any of us left, that’s what we’ll be doing, and then we can put Terence’s theory to the test.

    So that’s my 17 cents’ worth, but though female I’ve no idea if I’m typical!

    Well, I should have thanked Alison for her perspective on the ‘monogamy or not’ question earlier–sorry Alison, but I was trying to stand aside and see what others had to say, especially after I’d already done a really long post (albeit on another topic). But it’s also true that I don’t have much else to add. It’s a great summation of the ying and yang of ‘devotion vs. variety’. (And/or ‘supply and demand’, I guess, lol)

    I’ll just say that, for me, it’s especially wonderful to see two people who are totally in love and devoted to each other (with monogamy being part of it). It always seems like something particularly elevated and (I don’t want to use this cliché, but…) pure. That kind of ‘focused’ journey into love can be particularly illuminating, I think. Anyhow, I’m optimistic there’ll always be room for those who want to take that route with a partner (maybe forever, or maybe again and again, or maybe just for starters). It’d be a big loss if we lost it.

    Thanks again for your sharp and subtle (and generous) insight, Alison. And thanks for the encouragement, Lorenzo!

    Yes I agree that it’s a beautiful thing, two people together for ever. I remember being so sad when my marriage went wrong, one day I went to sit on a bench overlooking the sea to gather my thoughts. Turned around and noticed a plaque on the bench “TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM AND ALICE GUMSBY” (or something), which just made me cry even more! It’s a lovely ideal. I just think we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we can’t manage it ourselves… :0)

    I agree with that, Alison. And there’s not much to be said for keeping things together when they aren’t working, either. Pretending to be in love for a single night beats forever pretending to be in love, hands down. Really it’s the amount of “not pretending” that’s involved that seems most important to me.

    I think two people together is really beautiful, and when I think back to some of my past relationships, I remember the beauty–even though those relationships weren’t forever. Thank goodness for new people (and/or new approaches) when we need them.

    I want to let you all know that I’m getting more out of this discussion than I did from Terence’s talk 🙂 . . . keep it up!

    SpaceNet+Neuroph · 27 weeks ago

    sections from the beginning of this talk are used in this video – thanks!

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