All quotes from Terence McKenna’s

We have re-understood what was forgotten during the reductionist centuries of modern science. We’ve re-understood that the world is one thing, and it’s a living thing.

We’re all being told: you knew you were Jewish, but you forgot your Sicilian grandmother. You have to honor all of your family. Romanian—bring it forward. The dances of this, that, and the other. I hate all of this stuff. I’m Irish. It’s a weird thing to be; it’s a haunted, twisted people, as a people. All peoples—meaning tribes—have horrible stories to tell about who they did under and who they screwed over. And when you’re asked to identify with your culture, you’re asked to take this on. I reject it. My brother, years ago, invented this term. He called it “extra-environmental.” He said this is what we want to be. We don’t want to be Americans or Germans or English. We want to be extra-environmentalists: always feel wherever you go that you are a stranger, the outsider, the one looking in. This is the viewpoint that makes all places the same to you.

Transcending our cultures is going to be extraordinarily necessary for our survival. I don’t think we can carry our cultures through the keyhole of the stretch of the next millennium.

You are some kind of a mystery suspended between two eternities. And in that moment—when a mind looks out at a world and asks the question: “What is it?”—in that moment art can be created.

D’you all know what a meme is? It’s the smallest unit of an idea. It’s like what a gene is to biology, a meme is to ideology. And so our task is to create memes. Madonna is a meme, Catholicism is a meme, Marxism is a meme, yellow sweaters are a meme. Create memes. Rainbow-colored dreadlocks are a meme. Launch your meme boldly and see if it will replicate! Just like genes replicate and infect and move into the organism of society. And—believing as I do that society operates on a kind of biological economy—then I believe these memes are the key to societal evolution. But unless the memes are released to play the game, there’s no progress.

I think the obligation on people such as ourselves—and I assume (probably without exception) everybody in this room falls into the upper five percent of the Earth’s population in terms of wealth, education, and freedom. Even if you’re some poor pierced metalhead from the dark side of Mannheim, you have a better situation than most people on this planet; a better chance at actually reaching out at the machinery that shapes reality and having an impact.

Then the question becomes, or for some people is: “But I have nothing to say” or “I have nothing to paint” or “I have nothing to communicate.” Well, clearly you’re not taking enough drugs, then! That excuse simply will not be tolerated. And if someone finds that decadent or flippant or destructive, then they don’t understand what these psychedelic substances are. They open the doorway to creativity. They cleanse the doors of perception. And then, as Blake said, reality is perceived as it truly is: as infinite.

Part of what is wrong with our society (and hence with ourselves) is that we consume images. We don’t produce them. We need to produce, not consume media. Media is a huge issue. You can’t escape it. So what are you going to do about it? The only solution is to drive it, to take charge. Otherwise you will be poisoned by it. And as more and more people are waking up to this, essentially we are seeing, I think, a huge artistic revolution: a revolution in values that reaches into science, that reaches into politics, that reaches into every aspect of life, but that is coming from the imagination thoroughly stimulated and activated by the discovery of all these natural and synthetic substances which perturb the mind. And I’m not denying that a certain amount of social chaos goes along with this. But, on the other hand, I can point to pretty psychedelically pure centuries—like the thirteenth in Europe—and there was still plenty of social chaos going on. I don’t think you can lay social chaos at the feet of psychedelics, I think social chaos is an inimical part of the system. What psychedelics do is: they give a direction to that chaos, a dimension of vertical ascent. Because inevitably, out of the psychedelic situation emerges not despair, not self-indulgence, but wild-eyed idealism. That’s the inevitable product of any psychedelically-driven social process. How well that idealistic idea then brokers its way to the throne, if it does, is another issue.

There is a consistent myth in—let’s call it just Western civilization without being too precise—a consistent myth. In the early Jews you get it as the idea that God will enter history. With Christianity you get it with the idea that man and God can be consubstantial. Again, in Islam the insistence that God will enter history. Then, modern science strangely enough dumps all of this theology, but maintains the idea that man can become as a god. In other words, the myth that is consistent throughout the entire Western experience is the myth of some kind of defining progressive experience. Well, now we have the power to realize this myth in some kind of (for want of a better word) an alchemical utopia.

What all of this is leading toward is a rarefaction—good alchemical word!—a rarefaction of the human imprint on this planet, a spiritualization of humanity, and a new order of mind: part machine, part human. Notice that the Internet and the computers that it serves are actually made of the materials of the Earth. They’re largely metals, silicon, glass, copper, gold, silver. These are the products of demonic artifice. These are the things which the alchemists dreamed of. They transform space and time. They allow us to speak at a distance. They allow us to wander through libraries thousands of miles distant. No fact is too obscure, no person so hidden, that you can’t reach them. It is, in a way, the perfection of the magical ideal.