"A FUNGUS AMONG US"

An Interview with Terence McKenna, author of "Food of the Gods", "Archaic Revival" and other noted works. Conducted by Richard Rodgers for "Inner Views Cyberzine".

RR Greetings, and thank you for joining us today. Among psychedelic elders, we think of Gordon Wasson, Albert Hoffman, Richard Evans Schultes, and yourself. Do you see a second wave we can pass the torch of illumination to? In writers like Chris Conrad {"Hemp, Lifeline to the Future") and Steve Kubby ( "The Politics of Consciousness"), the issue seems to be almost more socio-political than ethnobotanical....

TM Well, the three people that you mention are all well over eighty. I will turn fifty this year, so I am hopeful that I may still have a little fight in me. Actually I am part of a second generation of people intensely interested in ethnobotany in a scholarly way. My brother, Jonathan Ott; Rob Montgomery, Andy Wilde, Wade Davis and many others, most of whom were young during the Sixties are the working core of ethnobotany today. Conrad and Kubby are reformers, very necessary, very important, but different from the professional biologists.

RR Both the late Timothy Leary and yourself are of the Irish Bardic tradition, waxing lyrical at the edge of the Abyss. We're seeing an increase of "Bravehearted" New Agers turning from emulating Native Americans to now embracing their Celtic roots in music, myth and media. What is this propensity for poetry and passion that lends itself so well to a linguistic dance with somatic revelation?

TM Bad climate, good beer and atavistic genes all lead to visionary melancholy, the necessary condition of good poetry and better shamanism.

RR. With the tragic disappearance of aboriginal tribes, we've lost much in the way of oral traditions, communion with Otherworlds, and racial memory. What part can sacred mushrooms play in accessing our cellular software? Will ancient chants and rituals be replaced by our emerging culture as it weaves it's one world web? With virgin forests gone and animals becoming extinct, what healing songs can emerge from the fractured mirror of contemporary technological artifact?

TM The psychedelic plant experience is an experience of boundary dissolution. Civilization is a game, an illusion of boundary. Wipe that away and people will feel each other and the condition of the earth and there will be a naturally unfolding impulse toward new social forms that can heal the indignities inflicted on the land in the past.

RR We're turning the corner on 2,000 and warping towards 2012. Faced with shifting social circumstances, changing patterns of self-perception and amazing astrological overlays, many of us feel like leaves in a whirlpool. Do those of us with psychedelic experience have advantage when surfing these waves?

TM Absolutely! Psychedelic experiences, shamanic experiences are penetrations into a higher dimension, a kind of super-space from which the future can at times be discerned. This is why prophecy and seership are inevitably associated with the shamans. They see into another dimension that contains the future and so do the contemporary neo-tech shamans that know their computer technology and their pharmacology as well as their mantas and yantras. It all is a seamless piece from where I am sitting.

RR A few years ago, scientists described the largest living organism as a colony of Fungi in Northern Michigan, extending (if memory serves) over a quarter mile, it's collective identity woven from millions of interconnecting tendrils. We can imagine a mirror of this in the potential for group mind between those elements of society with access to the Internet. Do you see it so?

TM The Internet is a powerful new structure in factual resonance with the living internet that is the Gaian skein of connectivity that binds the fungi and the higher plants together into a functional planetary ecosystem. The exciting thing about the Internet and nanotechnology and things like this is that we are beginning to build in the way that nature builds. We are beginning to connect things together in the way that nature connects things together. This is the beginning of a new order in the story of tool making.

RR While Fungi serve to break down that which is dying, freeing nutrients into the ecosystem, computers may serve to expand the military-industrial complex more that it allows shamans and artists to co-create an alternative culture. Considering the ecological impact of manufacturing digital technology and growing mountains of outdated hardware, what is the environmental message of this medium?

TM The technology is in such rapid transition that all objections to it's present form are being dealt with as we speak. Computers are becoming smaller, more efficient and more biodegradable and at very fast rate. As for empowering the military industrial complex, I disagree. I think that small computers are a technology never intended for the purposes with which they are being used. Democratization of information, empowerment of minorities and the promotions of eccentric sub cultures are examples.

RR What is your greatest hope? Can we pass through the eye of the needle at a higher octave before we shatter the organic matrix that supports us?

TM No problem. The main challenge is to reassure the less imaginative among us who may have the impression that the historical shit is hitting the eschatological fan. Not! The mushroom once said to me: "There is nothing to worry about. This is what it is like when a species prepares to depart for the stars."

RR We appreciate your having joined us today, and anticipate hearing much more from the frontiers of Science and Soma. Blessings to you and yours.