Machine Elves 101, or Why Terence McKenna Matters


Terence McKenna’s continuing cultural influence is demonstrated in Daniel Moler’s essay for Reality Sandwich. As a side note, here at disinformation we included a documentary look at McKenna on the DVD release of our film 2012: Science or Superstition:

If anyone ever wanted to get to know me (i.e., what makes Daniel tick) the first thing I would have to tell them is, “Read Terence McKenna.” In online forums and real life scenarios alike, I quote McKenna like Jules Winnfield quotes Ezekiel in Pulp Fiction. Passionate. With conviction. My armor and weapon when I’m ready to blast the meandering monotony of day-to-day living. However, most people ask, who is this guy? What exactly is the Terence McKenna circus? And, what makes him so important?

A few weeks ago my friend Michelle suggested I write a “Terence for Dummies” piece. So, since “For Dummies” is under copyright, here’s my bent on the McKenna legacy.

The Background

Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 — April 3, 2000) was born under the auspices of a conventional upbringing. His brother, Dennis, shared a penchant for the eccentricities of the fringe. Not unlike most psychopomp aficionados, McKenna’s introduction to the realm of psychedelic phenomena came through Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. The seed planted by this classic experiential account never left the McKenna boys in their ever-growing studies in philosophy and the sciences. After attaining his B.S. in Ecology and Conservation at U.C. Berkeley, Terence moved to Japan, eventually travelling throughout Southeast Asia until his mother died of cancer in 1971. A year later, Terence, Dennis, and friends made a long-awaited trek into the lower Putumayo of the Amazon Basin in search of a shamanic plant preparation called oo-koo-hé. The death of their mother, and the trials that came with Western society, was evident in their escape into the wilds of the rainforest. “We are at last freed of our umbilical connection to civilization,” wrote Terence in his journal the first day on the river…

[continues at Reality Sandwich]

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  • Arcocelli

    I think the question “does he matter?” needs to be answered first.

    • guest

      If you don't think he matters, you don't matter.

    • Connie Dobbs

      I believe the title already implies the answer when it asks why he matters. So yeah, he does. You don't, but he does.

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