Terence McKenna – Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

If you’ve never heard of Terence McKenna before, you are in for a treat.  McKenna was an American philosopher who focused on the nature of consciousness and its relationship with psychedelic drugs.  One of his long standing theories about the nature of conscious evolution, that I find to be very compelling, was that primitive man encountered psychedelic mushrooms, and it was the incorporation of psychedelics into the primitive diet that prompted self-realization and language to come into existence.

McKenna is also no fan of the state, which he calls an “ape man political system.”  Obviously I share some agreement with him on this point.  While I don’t agree with every thing that McKenna has to say, I do agree with the vast majority of it.  He’s not a political philosopher, so don’t expect to hear any references to Menger or Rothbard, but his take on consciousness is quite extraordinary and very compatible with what I have come to discover through other routes of inquiry myself.

Some of his insights about psychedelic mushrooms include the possibility that such mushrooms are potentially alien to the Earth’s natural ecosystems.  If you consider that each mushroom is capable of emitting millions upon millions of spores, and that the spores are so small that they can be subject to electrostatic forces in the environment, it is possible for those spores to be carried aloft out of Earth’s atmosphere.  Mushroom spores are practically custom built to survive in the environment of space.  Assuming spores are capable of being pushed into outer space by electrostatic forces, a mushroom species could potentially colonize the habitable planets of the galaxy in around 40 million years.  Given that mushrooms are non-invasive, and occupy the very bottom of the food chain since they primarily survive on decomposing organic matter, their survivability among alien worlds is very high.

It is also interesting to note that psilocybin (the psychedelic drug contained in mushrooms), when taken in low doses, increases visual acuity by increasing edge detection.  Grass land animals who incorporated psilocybin into their diet would have a competitive advantage over those who did not.  There are many other interesting effects of psilocybin that most people don’t know about because of their illegal status and the prohibition on psychedelic research.

To quote McKenna:

Whether the mushrooms came from outer space or not, the presence of psychedelic substances in the diet of early human beings created a number of changes in our evolutionary situation. When a person takes small amounts of psilocybin visual acuity improves. They can actually see slightly better, and this means that animals allowing psilocybin into their food chain would have increased hunting success, which means increased food supply, which means increased reproductive success, which is the name of the game in evolution. It is the organism that manages to propagate itself numerically that is successful. The presence of psilocybin in the diet of early pack- hunting primates caused the individuals that were ingesting the psilocybin to have increased visual acuity. At slightly higher doses of psilocybin there is sexual arousal, erection, and everything that goes under the term arousal of the central nervous system. Again, a factor which would increase reproductive success is reinforced.

One other interesting item of note about McKenna; his research led him to conclude that human consciousness would undergo a dramatic shift around the year 2012.  He predicted this back in the late 80’s.  I’m not sure how logically or scientifically valid his theory about “time wave zero” is, but there can be no denying that humanity is about to undergo some major socio-economic and political changes.  The bond bubble has yet to blow, and when it does, it will take the entire machinery of the state down with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Michael.Allen.Ellis Michael Ellis

    Love Terence! He was truly ahead of his time. His contention that the world is made of imagination and more specifically language had a big impact on me spiritually. That and taking “Heroic Doses” of mushrooms. You can never experience reality quite the same way again after experiencing for yourself what Terence talks about. Great post Michael!

  • The They

    I first seriously took psychedelics in college and i found that it made my understanding of philosophy much more acute. For instance, i wrote this poem entirely on LSD:

    Life,
    Through the differentiation
    Of its own self-engendering movement,
    veils its own eyes
    to the privilege of its self-experience.
    What a joke when
    a life full of contemplation
    has only to show for its efforts
    the understanding that occurs
    when the mind is silenced by its own contradictions.
    Understanding that
    When I see you,
    I see me.

    The-they.blogspot.com