Re: Obituary

From: Brad Bryndal (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 15:27:18 MDT

>From: "Steve" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: Obituary
>Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 19:09:49 +0100
>Hi List
>Here is a forward from Fraser Clark which also is sent to posthuman@egroup:
>The Prophet Unrecognised is gradually beginning to be recognised after his
>death. One by one the various national media are making references to
>Terence Mckenna's recent 'death'.

>Too bad he had to die to get people's attention but, then, i suppose that's
>life and i guess he's not the first prophet to have had to go through such
>a process. i see him ending up as a 'Saint' to the New Culture over the
>next decade or so, as more and more of the more and more new people start
>to check him out as the Singularity rushes upon us.

Hello All

Thanks for the Terrence McKenna (TM) obituary (although in my opinion its
characterization leans a little too heavily towards the classic Tim Leary
bio). I happen to believe TM's time-wave novelty model for predicting a
singularity was a somewhat flaky corner of an otherwise brilliant campaign
to empower everyday people to 'pull back the curtain and see the Wizard for
themselves', so to speak.

Although I am not a big fan of TM's decreasing novelty / I Ching hybrid
model, I am increasingly convinced that the point at which disincarnate
intelligence supersedes its developers in a meaningful way (ie. Vernon Vinge
theory)may, in fact, fall within a relatively small band around TM's date of
cataclysm (Dec 22 2012. 'Small band' loosely defined could be 0 - 50 years.
Anyone familiar with TM's writing care to convince me that this is could be
more than mere coincidence and that TM's model isn't just post hoc
application of formalized procedure onto an pre-existing ontological


>From: "Steve" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: Obituary
>Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 19:09:49 +0100
>Hi List
>Here is a forward from Fraser Clark which also is sent to posthuman@egroup:
>The Prophet Unrecognised is gradually beginning to be recognised after his
>death. One by one the various national media are making references to
>Terence Mckenna's recent 'death'.
>Too bad he had to die to get people's attention but, then, i suppose that's
>life and i guess he's not the first prophet to have had to go through such
>process. i see him ending up as a 'Saint' to the New Culture over the next
>decade or so, as more and more of the more and more new people start to
>check him out as the Singularity rushes upon us.
>below are the new york times' and los angeles times' obituaries. check the
>tone of each. wouldn't you say the writer's tongues were scarcely in their
>cheeks at all?! :-)
>PS: don't quote me, but it seems PROBABLE that Megatripolis The Second
>Coming will be launching at Heaven on thursday may 25th and we'll be
>devoting the whole evening in the debatathon room to something like "Is
>Terence, Arms Outstretched and Smirk In Place, Waiting for Us At The
>Singularity At The End Of Time?" would anyone who knew his work well
>contact the parallel-youniversity about speaking? i also have all his
>favourit classic raps on DAT and we'll be unleashing a very rare and
>now-unrepeatable treat.
>// ======== //
>Terence McKenna, who so playfully and persistently pressed his message that
>psychedelic drugs are mankind's salvation that Timothy Leary himself
>christened him "the Timothy Leary of the 90's," died on Monday at a
>home in San Rafael, Calif. He was 53 and lived on the South Kona Coast of
>The cause of death was brain cancer, said a publicist for his books.
>"If psychedelics don't ready you for the great beyond, then I don't know
>what really does," Mr. McKenna said in December in one of his last public
>speeches, at the Esalen Institute. Death, he said then, felt close.
>Mr. McKenna combined a leprechaun's wit with a poet's sensibility to brew a
>New Age stew with ingredients including flying saucers, elves and the I
>Ching. The essential seasoning was the psychedelic mushrooms that
>transformed his life and that he recommended-in "heroic doses"-for
>He lived on the wild side of a wild generation. He dropped acid in San
>Francisco in the 1960's, smuggled hashish in India and searched the jungles
>of the Amazon for the magic mushrooms.
>He told interviewers that he had smoked marijuana every day from the time
>was a teenager. In the 1990's, Mr. McKenna gained fame by delivering his
>drug pitch to a new generation at nightclub "raves."
> "My real function was to give people permission," he said in an article
>appear in the May issue of Wired magazine. "Essentially, what I existed
>was to say, 'Go ahead, you'll live through it, get loaded, you don't have
>be afraid.'"
>In lectures, in recordings and in five books, Mr. McKenna made his case for
>illegal substances that many experts consider highly dangerous. He had a
>grand theory: that psychedelic mushrooms are the missing link in the story
>of human evolution. Not until our primate ancestors began eating
>hallucinatory psilocybin mushrooms, he contended, did they begin to acquire
>human qualities.
>Mr. McKenna, a lanky man with a salt-and-pepper beard and deep-set eyes,
>also professed to know exactly when the world would end: Dec. 22, 2012. He
>came to this conclusion through a mathematical construct he based on the I
>Ching, the ancient Chinese book of divination.
>The package he pushed struck a chord, at least among the usual suspects.
>Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead called him "the only person who has made
>serious effort to objectify the psychedelic experience."
>But experts on drug treatment attacked Mr. McKenna for popularizing
>dangerous substances. "Surely the fact that Terence McKenna says that the
>psilocybin mushroom 'is the megaphone used by an alien, intergalactic Other
>to communicate with mankind' is enough for us to wonder if taking LSD has
>done something to his mental faculties," Judy Corman, vice president of
>Phoenix House of New York, a drug treatment center, said in a letter to The
>New York Times in 1993.
>Still others had big trouble with his self-consciously cosmic literary
>style. "I suffered hallucinatory agonies of my own while reading his
>ecstatic prose," Peter Conrad wrote in The New York Times in a 1993 review
>of Mr. McKenna's book "True Hallucinations," published by Harper San
>But many marveled at his stream of novel thoughts. "To write him off as a
>crazy hippie is a rather lazy approach to a man not only full of
>ideas but also blessed with a sense of humor and self-parody," Tom
>Hodgkinson wrote in The New Statesman and Society in 1994.
>Terence Kemp McKenna was born on Nov. 16, 1946, in a Colorado cattle and
>coal town, Paonia. He was a youth given to memorizing passages of James
>Joyce and reading Carl Jung's "Psychology and Alchemy," and his main
>satisfactions percolated from his fertile imagination.
>"I think my first encounter with psychedelics was looking at Colorado and
>trying to understand that it was once the shores of an ocean with
>hundred-foot-long sauropods tromping through the mangrove swamps," he told
>Details magazine in 1993.
>He found his way to San Francisco in 1965. According to the April 1993
>issue of Details magazine, Barry Melton, the guitarist for Country Joe &
>Fish, introduced him to marijuana in 1965. Soon he tried LSD.
>He enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley that year and was
>accepted into the Tussman Experimental College, which emphasized
>self-direction. After the two-year program, he embarked on travels around
>the world.
>In 1971 he and his brother, Dennis, journeyed to the Amazon jungle in
>of psychedelic plants. In a tiny mission settlement in southern Colombia,
>they encountered, for the first time, what drug enthusiasts call "magic
>In 1972, Mr. McKenna returned to Berkeley to finish college. He completed a
>self-tailored degree in ecology, resource recovery and shamanism. His mind
>was focused on, and certainly by, mushrooms. No one had yet figured out how
>to cultivate the mushrooms in the United States, but the McKennas brought
>the South American secrets home. They published them, and in the 1980's
>growing 70 pounds every six weeks. The operation ended when a friend was
>arrested for his fungi farm.
>In 1975, the two brothers published their first book, "The Invisible
>Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching." Mr.McKenna began to
>both to old hippies and converts to the emerging New Age. According to
>Wired, he drifted into the role of "charismatic talking head." He wrote
>books in the early 1990's. In addition to "True Hallucinations," they were
>"Food of the Gods" (Bantam, 1992); "The Archaic Revival" (Harper San
>Francisco) and "Trialogues at the Edge of the West," written with Ralph
>Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake (Bear & Company, 1992).
>Mr. McKenna met his wife, Kathleen Harrison, in Jerusalem in the
>They settled in Occidental, a small town north of San Francisco. They had a
>son, Finn, who now lives in Jersey City, N.J., and a daughter, Klea, of
>Santa Cruz, Calif. He is also survived by his brother, Dennis, who lives in
>After a divorce in 1992, Mr. McKenna moved to Hawaii, where he and his
>former wife owned property. Mr. McKenna built a modernist house, which is
>topped with a huge antenna dish for the Internet communications with which
>he became enamored.
>"Without sounding too cliched, the Internet really is the birth of global
>mind," he told Wired. "That's what a god is. Somebody who knows more than
>you do about whatever you're dealing with."
>When he fell ill last May, Mr. McKenna was enjoying a new life with Christy
>Silness, a young woman he had met the year before at an ethnobotanical
>conference in the Yucatan. He had medical treatment for glioblastoma
>multiforma, a rare form of brain cancer, while friends and followers added
>more esoteric touches.
>A self-styled "grand kahuna of Polynesia" biked up the mountain to meditate
>at his bedside. A Nevada disk jockey, Art Bell, asked his 13 million
>listeners to send good vibrations. Wired said Mr. McKenna, like many
>others, wondered whether a lifetime of drug use might be to blame for his
>brain tumor.
> "So what about it?" he asked his doctors. "You want to hammer on me about
>that?" They assured him there was no causal link. "So what about 35 years
>daily dope smoking?" he asked. They pointed to studies suggesting that
>cannabis may shrink tumors.
> "Listen," Mr. McKenna told them, "if cannabis shrinks tumors, we wouldn't
>be having this discussion."
>// ======== //
>Terence McKenna, a psychedelic pioneer, radical raconteur and passionate
>promoter of the mind-expanding powers of drugs, has died at 53.
>McKenna succumbed to brain cancer at a friend's home in San Rafael on
>Monday. A student of shamanism, virtual reality and the botany of the
>Amazon, McKenna was a proponent of the use of psyilocybin, commonly called
>magic mushrooms, and believed human civilizations developed after early
>hunter-gatherers accidentally ingested psychedelic drugs.
>He doggedly promoted that belief, as well as the idea that warfare
>only after the original hallucinogenic plants began to disappear because of
>climatic change. "Our dilemma is that, halfway on the way to becoming
>angels, we stopped taking our medicine," he once said.
>His notions on the power of the drug experience drew a loyal following
>members of the counterculture, including members of the Grateful Dead rock
>band. "Most of us who have been involved in the psychedelic experience
>we had the discipline and rigor of Terence McKenna," Jerry Garcia, the late
>lead singer and guitarist of the Grateful Dead, once said. "[He's] the one
>person who's made a serious effort to objectify the psychedelic
>experience-and done a good job at it."
>McKenna, who grew up in Paonia, Colo., moved to Los Altos, Calif., while in
>high school. He attended UC Berkeley for two years and traveled
>through Asia, Europe and South America before completing a self-tailored
>degree in shamanology at Berkeley in 1975. After college he made his
>dealing in Asian art in the East and as a professional butterfly collector.
>He expounded his controversial theories claiming that psychedelic plants,
>most notably psilocybin mushrooms, were the key to the evolution of human
>consciousness in books including "Food of the Gods," "The Invisible
>Landscape" and "Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide," which he
>wrote with his brother Dennis. Another title was "True Hallunications," a
>narrative of spiritual adventure in the jungles of the Amazon.
> >From his home base in Hawaii McKenna also founded and operated Botanical
>Dimensions, a non-profit organization dedicated to the investigation of
>"ethnomedical" and sacred plants. He also established a gene bank of rare
>species near his home.
>A celebrity on the Southern California rave scene of the early 1990's
>McKenna often appeared at all-night dance clubs where he delivered his
>pro-drug message. He also gave lectures in more formal settings, such as
>UCLA's Wadsworth Theater.
>McKenna explained to a Times reporter some years ago why he got stoned a
>lot. "My style of involvement [in drugs] is analytical and rational," he
>said. "Most people would think that that would melt the mystery away.
>That's not the case, actually. If you keep a rational mind when you
>the more peculiar edges of things, you will find odd possibilities."
>While calling for the legalization of controlled substances, he also noted
>that they were not for everyone, including the immature or mentally ill.
>"Drugs are heavy equipment and you have to learn how to operate heavy
>equipment," he said. "We have driver's licences; we should teach people
>to operate drugs."
>He is survived by his longtime partner, Christy Silness; his two children,
>Finn, 22 and Klea, 19; and his brother Dennis.
>// ======== //
>Terence McKenna, in Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable (1998)
>"I have talked before about shamanism anticipating the future. If you
>these psychedelic shamanic plants, you inevitably arrive at an apocalyptic
>intuition. I think shamans have always seen the end, and that the human
>enterprise in three-dimensional space has always been finite. In the same
>way that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny as we look into the past, it
>reasonable to assume that death, which we have spent a thousand years
>turning into a materialist vacuum, is in fact not what we think. There's an
>enormous mystery hovering over our existence, that's only unraveled beyond
>the grave.
>"I would never in my life have thought that I would be pushed to this
>position. I spent the first half of my life getting away from this kind of
>thing. However, the evidence of the shamanic hallucinogens is in fact that
>shamans have always done what they do via ancestor magic and
>higher-dimensional perception, and that death is not what naive positivism
>in the last 300 years has attempted to say it is. I realize that it's
>incredible to suppose that here at the apex of materialist, positivist,
>scientific civilization, we're going to make an orthogonal turn into an
>understanding of what lies beyond the grave, but in fact, this is probably
>the paradigm-shattering world-condensing event that is bearing down on us."
>// ======== //
>Steve Nichols

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