From Psychedelics to Cybernetics
September 13, 1990

Timothy Leary invited Terence McKenna to this evening lecture held at the Feuerwache in Mannheim, Germany.

God bless you!

An hour ago I didn’t know I would stand on this stage, so before you give your attention to me I’d like you to give your attention to the person sitting next to you, to the person sitting behind you. See, political circumstances have forced us to camouflage ourselves. We look pretty much like everybody else, but an event like this brings us out of the woodwork. This is your community! This is your affinity group. Whatever you need, somebody in this room knows how to get it! So it’s not necessarily the four dicks on the stage that are going to lead you into a new world, it’s what you will do for yourself to make this inner journey.


As Tim’s mentioned, we’ve all been down in Linz, thinking about virtual reality. Of course, for an American to come to Germany is to think about the great changes that are happening here. And I kept asking myself, “What is the uniting theme between psychedelics, virtual reality, and Germany?” And the answer is: radical freedom. Radical freedom! Radical freedom doesn’t mean giving somebody the vote. Radical freedom means the right to take over and control our own destiny, and the destiny of this planet. Radical freedom means recovering our birthright. What would you think if somebody attempted to take your sexuality away from you? In the suppression of the psychedelic experience, the masters who make the rules have taken away a major slice of what it is to be a human being. This is intolerable. We have been robbed of our birthright by the frightened, the constipated, the narrow-minded, the stupid, and the afraid. Take back your mind! Take back your mind! That is the message.


Now, the psychedelic experience is always criticized: irrelevant, narcissistic, self-indulgent. No. The psychedelic experience is the replay of human history in the individual mind. If you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know who you are. Part of this movement into the future is a recapturing of the archaic, the ancient, the prehistorical. As Tim said, that’s the Cro-Magnon religion of orgy, psychedelic ecstasy, and group sex.


Well, how do we get from where we are to where we want to be, and why is it so difficult? Well, I think it’s difficult because we have a lousy way of communicating. We communicate with words. Words are small mouth noises. Small mouth noises are a very low-grade channel of communication. What virtual reality holds out is the possibility that we can create a language where we see what we mean. If we could see what we mean, we would have a kind of telepathy. To see is to know! To see is to know! There is no ambiguity in sight. Ambiguity—




Was sagt er? [“What is he saying?”] Let’s lead me back to something I understand.

Anyway—the last point I want to make, because I think this is very important: we all talk about psychedelics, the impact on ourselves, the individual experience. But what are they when you look at a million psychedelic trips? What does it do to society? What it does is: it dissolves boundaries. It dissolves the ultimate boundary, which is the ultimate fuck-up, which is ego. Ego is something invented by frightened people 20,000 years ago as a way to suppress women, as a way to suppress sexuality, as a way to suppress the wonder inherent in the world. Psychedelics are catalysts for the human imagination. We were called forth out of monkey-existence by the fact that we had strange eating habits. And the consequence of those strange eating habits is: now, a monkey can dream of transforming its collective soul into a flying saucer. This is the goal that lies ahead at the end of history. History doesn’t go on endlessly fluctuating centuries into the future. History is leading toward the transformation of this planet in our lifetime. A cybernetic-biological-psychedelic being: the collectivity—not only of humanity, but of all life on Earth—is struggling to be born. The entire universe of matter is the womb of mind, and it is the task of human beings to lead the collectivity of humanity out of the labyrinth of matter and into the realm of the imagination. The imagination is where we’re all going to live. The imagination is the only place where the human soul is at home.


Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Oh Lord! I feel you! Oh Lord!


Well it’s a good thing he feels it, because that’s all I have to say.

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