Podcast 528 – “History Ends In Green” – Part 5


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Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


Date this lecture was recorded: September 1990

[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“The payoff [of psychedelic experiences] is being able to design our way toward a more humane culture.”

“And I think that’s how we have to act. We have to each choose a small area and then act in that limited area with all the existential commitments we can muster. But not with anxiety.”

“Anybody who thinks that you can save the world by setting it on fire is going to be sadly disabused.”

“Politics without responsibility IS fascism.”


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Posted in Culture, Language, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Thanks for posting this Lorenzo, it’s one of my favorites of the McKenna talks I’ve listened to recently. Hope you’re feeling better soon and best wishes for you and your family in the next year 🙂

    “We don’t know to what degree technology pushes these things around – did the people of manuscript culture have the same serotonin ratio that we have? How much? To what degree is culture a chemical feedback mechanism operating on us as a species?”

    “Mahatma Ghandi said ‘What you do has very little importance and it’s very important that you do it’ and I think that’s how we have to act. We have to each choose a small area and then act in that limited area with all the existential commitment we can muster. But not with anxiety. Wei Po Yang, the Chinese Taoist alchemist said ‘Worry is perposterous. You don’t know enough to worry’…it’s just a complete waste of metabolic energy. The better thing is to function well in place and then to wonder. Wonder is sort of worry without animal anxiety, but it’s living in the light of non-closure. We’re not going to get this thing wrestled into a box.”

    “We have transferred our loyalty to mythical structures. Structures about sexual politics, about what a man is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to be, how much money a person is supposed to have, how much art they’re supposed to produce, how many times a week they’re supposed to get laid, we have all these images that we’re supposed to live up to – very complex – all being sold down to us through a culture whose motivations are very murky and highly suspect. Culture is not your friend. All these people who want you to smell good and drive the right car and have your extra facial hair removed – these are not your friends, these people, and it pays to remember that there’s a struggle on for loyalty. That you look much better to the institutional structure if you work hard, consume quietly, choose from the political menu without a lot of fuss and that sort of thing, but in fact this kind of business as usual has led to the lethal crisis we’re in.”

    “If you want your mini-apocolypse, you can have it, and we can bomb Baghdad and gas Tel-Aviv and fire the oil sands and kill millions of people on both sides, and you know what? It ain’t gonna bring the guy from Gallilee and it ain’t gonna bring friendly flying saucers from Arcturus. All it’s gonna bring is a deeper, bigger mess for the human race to clean up. Anybody who think that you can save the world by setting it on fire is going to be sadly disabused.”

    “The French cartoonist Moebius asks the question in one of his books, ‘Is man good?’ and he answers it sufficiently seasoned and marinated ‘yes’, but we’re actually going to get the chance to answer this question because all barriers to the expression of our will, our vision, our dream are falling away. Are we some kind of anti-life, sado-masochistic, suicidal contradiction, or can we break through the million years of primate programming and alpha-male hierarchical dominace to actually uncover the angelic force within ourselves?”

    “What is to be done? How can we make a difference? I think the way that it’s to be done is by empowering invidividual discourse and recognizing the power of the individual. Huge amounts of global civilization are operating on automatic pilot. You think that if you were to walk into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or NATO headquarters in Brussels that there would be smart people furiously running things. There are idiots everywhere! At every level of organization! If you were to attend a cabinet meeting, one guy will be asleep with his face in his plate, I swear! It makes no difference. And we, the little people, down in the labyrinthine streets of the city looking up at the castle as the great ones come and go, we believe that they’re all about the fine business of humanity, but it’s just a fiction, it’s an absurdity, and to the degree that we proclaim it so, the meme spreads. The dream of the oligarchs, the autocrats, the programmers is desolved. This is why the psychedelic thing is so controversial – such political dynamite.”

    “Part of the package of being a living, thinking being is that you get a universe inside of you. You get a galaxy sized object inside of you that you can access – and there there are the mountains, the rivers, the jungles, the dynastic families, the ruins, the planets, the works of art, the poetry, the sciences, the magicks…of millions upon millions upon millions of worlds and this is, apparently, who we each are. We’re a little bit of eternity sticking into three dimensional space.” (this reminds me of a quote from Origen as quoted by Jung: “Understand that thou hast within thyself herds of cattle…flocks of sheep and flocks of goats…Understand that the fowls of the air are also within thee. Marvel not if we say that these are within thee, but understand that thou thyself art another world in little, and hast within thee the sun and the moon and also the stars…Thou seest that thou hast all those things which the world hath.”)

    “You need an ego. If you didn’t have an ego, you wouldn’t know whose food to put food in when you have dinner with someone at a restaurant. Ego is necessary to keep straight whose orifaces are whose, and that’s the main function of ego.”

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