Every once in a while you stumble upon a beautiful artifact in the depths of YouTube, and you’re suddenly overcome with gratitude. “It’s a good thing I got that PhD in YouTube Archaeology,” you think.
The catalyst for this post was just such an event. At two discrete junctures in the last year or so, I was wandering aimlessly through the vast void of the Interwebz, and lo! I stumbled upon gem-like videos of a man for whom I feel a tremendous amount of love and respect: the late Terence McKenna.
The famously anti-ideological philosophical entertainer who warned that “culture is not your friend,” McKenna was a profoundly original thinker, a pioneering psychonaut, and an incisive cultural critic. His brilliant lectures—such as ‘Opening the Doors of Creativity,’ one of my personal favorites—have reached and influenced millions of people with their urgent and penetrating insights into our present global situation.
Beyond his claims to fame and renown, though, what always made/makes Terence McKenna such a joy to listen to, for me, is the fact that he just seems like a good dude. Terence seems like someone you could actually kick it with. I can picture myself passing him a bong, and I can picture his goofy grin and laugh in the wake of taking a rip.
Despite being a kind of ‘guru’ figure to many people, Terence managed to come across as a pretty regular fellow who was down to spark up and think about some cortex-withering shit. This might actually be one of Terence’s most valuable lessons: that gurus, sages, liberated beings, great artists or intellectuals, etc. are simply human beings. They’re not fundamentally different from you or I. They roll out of bed in the morning and make a cup of tea, just like you.
Our culture tends to put certain people on pedestals—to force great artists, athletes, and scientists into the Game of Fame, thereby Other-ing them and making them seem superhuman. This prevents the general mass of people from realizing that, on a crucial level, you are no different from them. You too are human, and in you there is a peculiar brand of greatness that can be expressed, if you determine that it shall be.
Terence was aware of the malignant Other-ing of gurus and the myriad downfalls of excessive guru veneration and was outspokenly opposed to being considered an absolute authority of any kind. He once stated: “The mushroom said to me once, ‘For one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like a grain of sand on the beach seeking enlightenment from another.’”
2 Soul-Warming Video Clips of Uncle Terence
So, anyway, in honorary commemoration of the late wonder, Terence McKenna, here are two super-short video clips that never fail to warm my soul. The first is of ol’ Terence saying, “Take it easy, dude, but take it!,” encouraging us all to affirm this strange journey of life and to chill as we traverse the endless ebb and flow of experience. The second is of Terence enjoying some cannabis with friends.
Conclusion and Some Quotes
I truly hope you appreciated these clips of Uncle Terence as much as I do. Finally, in sum, it seems appropriate to leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Terence:
“Astonishment is the proper response to reality.”
— Terence McKenna
“I have been vehemently accused by people who didn’t understand me of not believing in anything. I don’t believe in anything. This is not a statement of existential hopelessness for which you should light a candle for me at night. It’s a strategy for not getting bogged down in some weird trip. After all, what is the basis for believing anything? I mean, you have to understand: You’re a monkey. In some kind of a biological situation where everything has been evolved to serve the economy of survival—this is not a philosophy course. So belief is a curious reaction to the present at hand. It isn’t to be believed, it’s to be dealt with—experienced and modeled.”
— Terence McKenna
“It’s amazing to me—I mean, if you were to meet a termite to state that his or her goal in life was the perfect modeling of the cosmos you would think it was quite a comic undertaking, and yet how different are we that we should presume to more than a shadow of a shadow of the truth.”
— Terence McKenna
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
― Terence McKenna
The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna
In these essays, interviews, and narrative adventures, McKenna takes us on a mesmerizing journey deep into the Amazon as well as into the hidden recesses of the human psyche and the outer limits of our culture, giving us startling visions of the past and future. In this far-reaching text, McKenna presents insights on psychedelic mushrooms, UFOs, evolution, shamanism, Goddess worship, and the end of history, among other things. It’s a canonical, mind-bending staple of countercultural literature.