Imagination in the Light of Nature

2 October 1992
Earth Trust Benefit, Los Angeles, California (Apparently: Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles)


This talk does not have any transcribers

Announcer - Now, to Terence McKenna. Terence McKenna has become legendary for his investigations into psychedelic mushrooms, virtual reality, U.F.O.s, evolution, the rebirth of the goddess and the end of history. His numerous books include the recent Archaic Revival and Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge and trialougues with Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham. Terence McKenna is a scholar and brilliant inter-dimensional adventurer with an understanding of nature from the depths of the Amazon to the most current scientific breakthroughs. He is a shamanologist who traverses the worlds of the psyche and the spirit, bringing back startling visions of the revelatory nature of existence. Simply put, he takes enormous chances, breaks all the rules and comes back with pearls. Welcome Terence McKenna: Imagination in the Light of Nature. [applause] Terence McKenna - "Well it's a pleasure to be here. I've heard of preaching to the choir but this is absurd. Out of deference to where we're meeting I'll try to curb my anti-clerical tendencies, for the next hour anyway. Before I get into this I'd like to thank a number of people associated with Earth Trust; Andrew, Matthew, Georgeann, Elizabeth. They're the people who put this event together. Jim Essex is handling security tonight, uh, and we appreciate that... My goodness, a balcony as well. All the usual suspects appear to have been herded into one room. That was a wonderful introduction from Georgeann, I'd love to meet that guy sometime. I - I accepted this invitation to speak because I think what the Earth Trust Foundation is doing is not only very important but I also perceive the potential for a pun in their name and I'll talk about that a little this evening. I think we're living through extraordinary times, even more extraordinary than usual over the past couple of years. I think you have to be fairly lumpen indeed to not feel the flux, the change that is cascading into the historical process at this time. Bifurcations, opportunities for choice are opening up all around us and yet, it's a kind of 'coincidentia oppositorum' there is also great risk, great anguish, great uncertainty about where we as a species and as a planet are headed. And I certainly don't have any final answers but I think we can talk about these things and, uh, build, uh, a sense of community and a sense of direction that is capable of overcoming some of the paralysis that has characterized, uh, the last couple of decades. Because, as we move closer and closer to the millennium, it's becoming clearer and clearer to me, at least, and I would like to try and convince you of the fact that ten thousand years of human history, of the human adventure are coming to a kind of culmination in our life time. This is the make-or-break decade, this and the decade which will follow it. Uh, the human enterprise has grown from an enterprise confined to one primate species isolated, uh, on the grasslands of Africa, to an enterprise which now echoes and re-echoes in the life of every organism on the planet. We have, for better or ill, seized the tiller of planetary development, seized the tiller of human history and the question is: Whither are we headed? Where do we want to take the human adventure? And I think we've been preparing for this culmination for a long, long time. I see human history as essentially an unconscious but unerring movement toward something, and the question is: What? Is it simply that we have been preparing to commit suicide with greater and greater efficiency for fifteen thousand years? If you place your faith in secular politicians and the kind of ideas that are being pedaled in the ideological marketplace of the mainstream you could hardly conclude anything else. But I submit that occluded from our vision, and for very good reasons, is, uh, the raison d'etre of this process; human history, and that we are now in a position to raise the veil on what that goal might be. But there will be a number of casualties to this raising of the veil, not least among them science as ordinarily practiced, dominator politics as ordinarily practiced and the division of our human community into factions defined by race, religion, and class. All of these, um, institutions and styles of the past have now become essentially lethal if we expect to evolve deeper into some kind of humane future. My, um, interest in this or my awareness of these issues has grown over the years through an involvement in shamanism. Shamanism that was specifically rooted in the kind of experiences that are induced by psychoactive plants. Now this is an area that our society is extraordinarily phobic and nervous concerning. And the reason, I think, is not far to seek because institutions, modern institutions depend on, um, the transmission of a certain world view and then willing acquiescence in the truth of that world view by the populations into which it is being exported. In other words, a kind of cultural brainwashing is necessary for modern cultures to work at all. And the consequences of the acceptance of this situation of brainwashing is, uh, further acceleration toward catastrophe. Many people are in anticipation of a kind of apocalypse, a kind of complete break down of social institutions and ideals and I must say to you the apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it's only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse. If you go to Bosnia or Somalia or Peru or much of the third world then it appears that the apocalypse has already arrived. And I wonder then... what magnitude of responsibility rests upon those of us who still have the luxury of the time and the clarity to think about what can be done to save ourselves and in so doing, save the planet. And the conclusion that I've reached, and it's not easily condensed into a bumper sticker unfortunately, [ crowd laughter] is that we have to - this is something that I evolved in my own personal life, which is, when you lose the thread, when you become confused the best strategy is to think back to the last sane moment that you knew [crowd laughter] and then act from there. And this is an impulse that affects societies as well as human beings. This year we celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the New World, our world. Now that was an historical event essentially financed by Italian banking families and the spin-offs of their enterprises. They created a world on the wreckage of the collapse of the medieval Christian eschatology based on classicism. And that model has survived and functioned fairly well up into the twentieth century. This is a standard impulse within a society, to go back to an earlier time and to create new models and new institutions based on an ever more ancient past. Now our situation is global and extreme and so when we reach back into the past for a model, we have to pass over Greece, we have to pass over dynastic Egypt. We have to go back to a time before history, before the fall into hierarchical dominance, before city-states, before slavery, before advanced technology, before agriculture. And when we go that far back into time we discover a world that until very recently was completely incomprehensible to us. A world that - it was, uh, thought of as primitive, simplistic, child-like as late as the 1950's and for many people, unto this moment. But careful analysis of these aboriginal societies leads to the conclusion that history is a dysfunctional state of some sort. History is, uh, an act of brutish insensitivity only achievable through an act of, um, self limitation from the demands and the inspiration of nature. And I reached these conclusions basically as a rationalist. I think that - and this is based largely on the context of the psychedelic experiences that I have had and that I have had described to me, not only by aboriginal people, but by people such as yourselves - uh, apparently there is a great discovery or insight which our culture is deliberately designed to suppress, distort and ignore, and this is the discovery that nature is some kind of minded entity, that nature is not simply, you know, the random flight of atoms through electromagnetic fields. Nature is not the empty despiritualized lumpen matter that we inherit from modern physics, but it is instead a kind of intelligence, a kind of mind and as long as we were embedded in this mind, as long as we were a part of it's purposes and processes harmony existed on this planet between human beings and the rest of nature, between men and women, between adults and children and within the human individual. And the reason that this harmony was able to maintain itself for perhaps twenty five times the duration of history is because it honored and balanced all the components that created it. Now, in my book Food of the Gods I put forth an elaborate reconstruction of evolutionary theory based on the idea that psychedelic compounds, specifically psilocybin, were what kept us in this dynamic balance with the mind behind nature. And I've lectured that often enough to you that I'm going to only indicate it tonight, to your great relief I'm sure. I've said it often enough that I think we can operate in the light of it as an established possibility or a respectable theory, but the question that I'd like to talk to you about tonight is : If that were true, what does that say for the future? What are we to do? Where are we to seek hope and what kind of obligation devolves upon each of us? Well, if this is true; that history is a kind of neurosis, a kind of dysfunction based on a broken line of communication into nature. Then how can it be repaired? The personal answer is, to my mind, obvious. It's an involvement with aboriginal peoples and their practices and attitudes. And I'm not talking about drumming here, folks. I'm talking about, uh, availing one's self of the pharmacological and psychobotanical doorways that lead in to a feeling-toned relationship with the natural mind. This is actually the matrix out of which consciousness was born. We find our way back to it through the judicious use of psychedelic plants. And I think I have made that point, uh, enough times that I don't have to repeat myself. What I'd like to talk about tonight is: how do we, a self-defined cultural elite as much as anybody hanging out in their office in Century City, how do we, the psychedelically informed post modern neo-shamanic community go, move from being a tolerated and somewhat loathsome fringe population to, uh, a voice in the dialogue, here, in anticipation of the end of the world that can be heard? How do we do that? Well, I think that there are a number of possibilities and I always enjoy making this point in this town particularly because this is the city of, uh, the graven images, not in gold and stone, but in film and light. This is the meme engine of the western world. Those of you who work in media know the power of the word. 'As it is said, so shall it be'. And so the tool of the revolutionaries at the end of the millennium is, to my mind, art. Art which connects people, which transcends the mundane and which empowers hope. And of course it can have many forms and occur in many media, but it must be true to itself. It must be true to the thing we were before the descent into history. And I don't see history entirely as a pathology. I see it - the story I like, which seems to me to illuminate the situation, is the story of the prodigal son. We, western civilization, we are the prodigal son. We left the confines of the family of nature and we made a hellish descent into intellectual limitation, into matter, into model building that was deliberately self-limited. We exorcised the spirit from our model building. We exorcised a caring and enfolding matrix of maternal understanding, and what we created were models based on atoms flying through the void. This may have been a necessary precondition to our shedding, uh, the theological misconceptions that occurred when male dominance got a hold of the idea of religion. {SPLICED} Comes a lethal idea if practiced too long. {SPLICED} Models. That's why I use the word models so frequently rather than the concept of truth. I mean, for monkeys to speak of truth is hubris of the highest degree. I mean, where is it writ large that talking monkeys should be able to model the cosmos. If a sea urchin or a raccoon were to propose to you that it had a viable truth about the universe, the absurdity of that assertion would be self-evident, but in our own case, we make an exception. Too bad. [applause] So now, what is happening after twenty five thousand years or fifteen thousand years of agriculture is that the processes that seemed eternal; the processes of tilling the fields, smelting metals, establishing markets, cutting deals, so forth and so on have, in our lifetimes, emerged as self-limiting processes. You know, people think I'm a wild-eyed character because I predict some kind of transcendent transformation of the world within our lifetimes, but if you could sit in on the board meetings of the people who own the planet, they posses data moving across their desks every day which entirely support my contention that business as usual has been taken off the menu. You have only to propagate the curves of population growth, of H.I.V. infection, of ozone depletion, of toxification of the oceans, so forth and so on, we all know the laundry list, to convince yourself that business as usual is no longer an option. There is no middle way, there is no Ozzie and Harriet third millennium scenario. [audience laughter] The choices are either a hideous, nightmarish world. A soylent green kind of world. A world where people of privilege defend that privilege with, uh, tremendous, uh, establishments of armament and propaganda and the rest of the world slips into poverty, starvation, desperation and death. This is the kind of world that rationalists fear and it's also the only kind of world that they can imagine because they are bankrupt of inspiration and ideas. And so the entire effort of the establishment has become one of holding down panic, keeping the ball in play, keeping ordinary people and ordinary populations quiescent through drugs which are not psychedelic, through forms of media which are not transcendental and inspiring, but which are narcoleptic and deadening. I won't name any names here [audience laughs]. And this is the fiction that we live in and this is why our situation feels so schizophrenic. And of course, as we go through this presidential election, the contradictions are heightened almost to the point of nausea, because what is under discussion is how - what manner of fine-tuning shall be applied to the social machinery in order to make it possible to hold together the illusion of business as usual. And the answer is ; There is no such fine-tuning. It's all . And instead what is needed is a radical openness to new ideas of all sorts, and I believe that once the radical openness to new ideas is given respectability, the boundless creativity of the human mind will be tapped into and come to our aid, but we have to stop trying to preserve a status-quo which has made us neurotic and self-defeating, admit that we have wandered long in the wilderness and then begin to talk about 'what should be done about it?'. And I've always felt that the phobia which the powers that be feel toward the psychedelic experience is essentially a phobia of, uh, of creativity, a phobia of dissolved boundaries, a phobia of honest discussion on a level playing field. All cultures are lies of some sort. We recently have lived through the very instructive example of the self-destruction of the socialist world. The contradictions became unbearable. The fiction of the glorious forward stride of socialist man toward a worker utopia eventually became insupportable in the face of the knock on the door in the middle of the night, the endless cues to buy food that wasn't there, so forth and so on. But before we lapse into some kind of smugness about this we have to recognize that there are internal contradictions in our world as well. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations stated the general theory of capitalism, and the general theory of capitalism is; uh, access to cheap labor and extractable, inexpensive natural resources makes possible a manufacturing cycle in which finished objects can then be pedaled to a core population that represents an advanced stage of civilization. Well now, this - however flawed this theory may have been, it worked as long as those two conditions were met; cheap labor, and cheap extractable natural resources. This is now impossible. There is no cheap labor and the cost of continued extraction of natural resources is the death of the planet. What we have to do is back away from our obsession with things. We can no longer define our worth through attachment to things. We have to create a psychology that reinforces inner worth. And you know, I hate to tell you but strangely enough this runs counter to democratic values, because the notion behind democratic values is the person as physical atom in a social system. In other words, the notion of democracy is that we are all equal and can be used interchangeably in any social equation. This is the best we could do - the Greeks dreamed this up - until we back away from materialism, and materialism is not necessarily wedded or, or welded to democratic values. Democracy works, in the kind of world we're living in, only if it is severed from a capitalist consumer cycle. The other thing we have to do is, uh, take responsibility for our population. And I, uh - you know, people are fond of just throwing up their hands and saying that 'The social momentum, the momentum toward world catastrophe is so great that nothing can be conceived of - short of friendly visitors from Zeta Reticuli bailing us out - that would lead to any kind of sane and rational world'. But, uh, have you noticed that, uh, if every women were to bear only one natural child the population of the Earth would fall by fifty percent in about forty years without war, epidemic disease or forced migration. Now this is interesting. I don't advocate it. I simply think it's interesting that such a simple solution would have such an enormous impact on problems generally thought to be intractable. I discussed this idea with demographers, and they pointed out to me, and some of you have heard me say this before but i think it's worth repeating, a woman on the Upper East Side of New York, or in Malibu who has a child, that child will have between eight hundred and a thousand times more negative impact on the environment of the Earth, than a child born to a woman in Bangladesh. Where do we preach birth control? Bangladesh. Why do we do this? Well. I'm not sure. This woman in Malibu or on the Upper East Side is a very likely candidate to be open to this message. She is after all college educated, media sophisticated and feels I think, generally, a fair responsibility towards the problem that we all confront. Uh, well, so then why aren't these kinds of ideas being tried? We could set up a set of social values where we could go to intelligent educated women in high-tech industrial democracies and without any shuck or jive say "How would like vastly increased leisure time, [crowd laughs] a vast increase in your disposable income and the genuine status of 'hero' in the fight to save the planet? Now naturally you can't do this if you have these fundamentalist yahoos running around raving about family values [applause]. But hopefully these people are going to be shipped back to whatever syphilitic bible-pounding rat hole they all came out of in the first place [more applause] Easy. Easy. So I was puzzled, uh, as I explored this idea wondering, not why is hasn't been tried, but i'd never heard it even discussed. And it came to me, finally, it's because nobody has figured out how you make a buck in a situation of retrieving demographics like that. But notice what's going on; if you had a situation where the Earth's population was dropping by fifty percent in a forty year period, it might be difficult for a corporation to make money in that kind of a situation by selling its products. But the wealth of the living would increase by fifty percent, because you would every week be inheriting farms and country homes from cousins and aunts and uncles you didn't even know you had. So, So the wealth of individuals would increase, but the wealth of corporations would be under severe stress in that kind of a situation. Well, then that means these corporations have become a kind of toxic force operating against the best interests of, uh, individuals [applause]. Well, um... now, the other thing is, uh, and this is sort of a switch in tack. The dematerializing of our lives is I think another area where we could make a significant conscious contribution to at least pumping the brakes on the approach toward a, uh, the passing of a fail safe point. Uh, and that means, exploring such admittedly odious possibilities as virtual reality, where light replaces matter and code replaces, uh, computer codes and this sort of thing replace the manipulation of matter by the kinds of crude technologies that we have grown accustomed to. I can imagine a world where we commit ourselves not to uh, uh, something like Star Wars but if the technical mentality must have a bone to chew on, then let's set a global or national technical goal of producing by the year 2005 say, uh, a technology which results in something which looks like black contact lenses. Contact lenses which are installed in the eyelid such that when you close your eyes menus hang in space. The entire culture could be dematerialized and downloaded into an electronic virtual culture that would nowhere come tangential to the Earth and would require very limited resource extraction. If this mattered as much as being able to knock down seven hundred incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles in a minute and a half, you can bet your boots it would be on your plate by breakfast time. It is within reach. It's simply that we are not organizing ourselves to save ourselves, we are organizing ourselves to deny our dilemma and to continue the fiction of business as usual and, uh, the only, om, catalyst, that I, personally in a lifetime of experience have encountered that can change us quickly enough to set us moving in these new directions is the psychedelic experience. If hortatory preaching could do it, then I would think the Deer Park sermon at Sarnoth or the Sermon on the Mount would have been the turning point and obviously those were just speed bumps on the way to the apocalypse. So, wha-what is necessary, you see, is to address the organism, to address experience and the way it is done is by dissolving boundaries, because the reason we are able to sit here tonight without freaking out completely about the situation that we're in, is because we have incredible barriers against a full assimilation of the information that is available to us right now. I mean, the fact that we can maintain our sanguinity and look at something like the A.I.D.S. epidemic means that we are emotionally numb to threats to our very existence. I mean, the African continent is truly in danger of becoming an empty continent through disease. I don't want to see an empty tropical world inherited by re-empowered honky men fifty years in the future. I think that would be an obscene denouement to the A.I.D.S. situation. These sorts of things are intolerable. We have the technological ability, the financial punch even at this late date in the mismanaged republican game, to change the world. What we seem to lack is the means, the ability, the chutzpah whatever it is, to change our minds. We must change our minds each and every one of us. Uh, this election they're screaming "Change! Change!" and when you look at the minuscule differences that you're offered, and people say, "My god, you're not gunna knock Clinton too, are ya?" No, No I'm for minuscule change in the absence of any other possibility but only because I think it will make it easier for us to do the larger business of radically transforming society [applause]. Well, so that's all sort of, um, nuts and bolts stuff. And I wanted to sort of talk about that for a while and then I wanted to change my focus because, uh, above and beyond the practical things we can do collectively and individually, uh, I think we also have to seriously rethink our first principals, and that lead me in a more philosophical and theoretical direction. Uh, I can't fail to talk to you about the conclusions that I draw from the psychedelic experience and that's been the major influence on my, uh, thinking. When I first began experimenting with these shamanic plants, I assumed that the available models would suffice fro understanding what was going on. Uh, the first available model was: You are perturbing brain chemistry and so you are essentially mixing up the test pattern. That theory could be dispensed with thirty minutes into the first experience because these experiences are not chaotic in the old sense, they are coherent, architectonic, transformative, they are not the antithesis but the quintessence of meaning. Meaning is enhanced, not obliterated. So then I moved on to a kind of Freudian expectation: Aha! These psychedelic plants and compounds must be a kind of instant psychotherapy, a catalyst for the study of personal neurosis, a tool for the recovery of traumatic memory so forth and so on. All true, but woefully inadequate, to the totality of the experience, much of which seems to lie far outside the parameters of some notion as cheerful as 'instant psychotherapy'. Okay, so then jack the metaphor slightly higher. It must be then that it was not Freud but Jung who was right [crowd laughs]. And so it must be that is an insight into not only my personality, my past my, trauma, but a collectivity of myth of expectation that is written into the mammalian and primate genes that we carry in our bodies and that these vast forms glimpsed in the psychedelic dimension are in fact the archetypes of Jung. They are the overstructure of the mass psyche that arises out of our physical and mental organization and around which language crystallizes various cultural interpretations in which we then take up residence and cheerfully and unthinkingly live out our lives. Well it turns out that also is completely, uh, while true, inadequate to the sum total of the experience. So in the past few years, and probably because I have been associating with uh, mathematicians and people like Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake a bit, I've come to what I call the Geometric Model of the psychedelic experience and I certainly don't represent it as the end of the intellectual road but it is a provisional model that is the best I can do at the moment. I think that, and it seems logically compelling to me, that consciousness as ordinarily experienced is a, a human ability shaped by evolutionary pressure and since evolutionary threat and harm usually comes at us in three dimensional space, this is where consciousness has been forced, really to concentrate and define itself, now least I'm not making myself clear let me restate it. Because of the possibility of being stepped on by woolly mammoths and eaten by saber toothed tigers, the primitive evolving mind of human beings concentrated on nearby space and time, because that's where threat comes from, the kind of threat that has to be immediately responded to by running away or fighting or something like that. But consciousness - if the psychedelics prove anything, they prove that consciousness is an incredibly plastic and malleable medium. And so what happens when you take a compound like psylocibin in silent darkness in a situation of no threat and low anxiety and low input from the exterior world is that this... function which is essentially in most situations a closed fist a closed fist ready to strike out at something nearby unfolds into something much more beautiful, much more interesting, and much more true to itself, in other words, not defined by an exterior context or situation but defined by its own mechanics. And when this happens, uh, what we see is, uh, well a number of things or one thing potentially describable in a number of different ways. What we see is that time and, uh, becoming is not entirely driven by the consequences of the past. This is the philosophy which reigns in the world of three-dimensional space, but in higher-dimensional modalities, it is possible to contact something which I sometimes call the 'great attractor', sometimes 'the transcendental object at the end of time', and sometimes the 'big surprise'. In other words, one can discover within one's self something that is not pushing us from behind into a frightening and unknowable future, but something which is actually calling to us from the future and casting a waving and flickering shadow down in to the lower dimensional slice of ordinary reality. Now, people such as ourselves largely have been phobic of this concept because it's been under the control of beady-eyed little priests for centuries and centuries and they have used it as an argument for a laundry list of moral dos and don'ts, which is a complete perversion of what it is, what it is is uh, the attractor, or the omega point, or uh, the transcendental object at the end of time. It is the lost portion of ourselves. It's the portion of ourselves that we left behind when we made the descent into matter and physicality that being a thing made of meat and bone and nerve entails. And most people, at least in these secular high-tech democracies have so lost touch with this that they never lay eyes on it again until they close their eyes for the last time. The one thing that we have all imbibed too deeply is the secular belief that death is nothingness. [SPLICED] We are left to fall back on the schemes of the secular politicians and the managers and these are the least worthy among us to lead us anywhere. Culture is a kind of diversion, a kind of entertainment that takes us away from the real business of being, and the real business of being is to cultivate the thing within ourselves which is most like this radiant attractive force that is drawing all organization into itself. Well what is it then that we must cultivate within ourselves in order to reflect and do honor to the attractor at the end of history. Well, I think that it's love, that without love, all this intellectual cirumlobration (circumlocution?) and all this linguistic diddling with interior images is flawed and narcissistic. Love is not easily comprehended, perhaps not comprehensible at all. It is a mystery, a mystery into which we are being absorbed, and at the absorption into the true unfolding of the mystery of love... life and death, history and the eschaton, the aboriginal and the secular are all melded into one. This is happening to us uh, you know it's a cliche of modern journalism to say that time is speeding up. It's thought of as a metaphor. It is not a metaphor. The crisis that we are experiencing is in part a crisis in ourselves, but its also a crisis in the physics - of the physics in which we are embedded. You see, we, uh, to account for history, I think you have to, uh, stand the standard model of what the universe is completely on its head. The standard model that we inherit from physics, uh, has - it opens with something called 'The Big Bang'. Interestingly the way science operates is it says "Give us one free miracle, and then we can explain everything" [laughter and applause]. Well, if science gets one free miracle, then I think every ideology ought to be given, uh, the same advantage. So I think that the miracle of the big bang is an unlikelihood so preposterous that it could almost be seen as the limit case for credulity [laughter]. What I mean by that is, if you can believe that, you can believe anything! [laughter] I mean if you can believe the universe sprang from nothing in a single instant in an area considerably smaller than the cross section of a gnat's eyebrow, then I'd like to talk to you after the show about purchasing a large bridge that spans the Hudson River that's been in my family for generations [laughter]. Scientists don't like this kind of talk. If I get one free miracle, then where I would put it is not in the absolute ultra hyper vacuum of the pre-physical realm before time and space began its unfoldment. That seems to me to be an extraordinarily unlikely place to have a universe spring from. I think the place to put the free miracle is at the, uh - in a domain in which their are many kinds of energy, many kinds of motion, uh, many forms of organization, inorganic, organic, social, aesthetic, psychological, so forth and so on, in other words, a world somewhat like our own. And so I believe that we are actually moving toward the culmination of history which all these cock-eyed religions actually promised. It's just that they so distorted the vision in order to get their moral laundry list tagged onto the thing that it became oppressive and unrecognizable. But, uh, you see, if there were only chipmunks and wild cats and cockroaches on this planet, then Darwinian evolutionary theory as modified by molecular biology would be completely adequate to explain the situation. It is ourselves that overturn that cheerful model of what is going on. We represent a breakout from the rules of organic nature and evolution that is no mere small exception. Because whatever this, uh, breakout that we represent is, it has become the dominant force shaping the planet. Well, what is it? It's that history is the shock wave of eschatology. I think of the surface of a pond and the time before history is the surface of that pond at absolute equilibrium. Calm, mirror smooth. Well then, the surface of the pond begins to churn and ripple and froth, and why? Because something enormous is moving beneath the surface. Something is about to break the surface. History is that agitation of the pond of time. All these migrations, technologies, civilizations, martyrs, saints, kings, fiends, all of this language, poetry, propaganda, these hideous paintings with people's eyes rolled back in ecstasy, the architectonic forms, the - all of this is in anticipation of something, literally, unthinkable, but something which invades our lives, our dreams, our psychedelic experiences with increasing urgency because we are being pulled toward it at a faster and faster rate. This is what, uh, the psychedelic experience in the modern context reveals, because really in my notion, the shaman is a geometer, a hands-on geometer. And what the shaman is doing is rising out of the plane of mundane cultural existence. Mircea Eliade Audio Link Transcription Other links