Writer Tao Lin shares 30 of his favorite Terence McKenna memes for you as part of his “Beyond Existentialism” series. Sounds pretty good to me. The fascinating trend this year has been how much of psychedelic culture is going mainstream. We’ve had Lindsey Lohan doing Ayahuasca, VICE covering our Evolver MAPS course, and now a multi-part series on Terence McKenna. Myself and the rest of the Reality Sandwich staff are following this trend very closely.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)—who, like McKenna, stressed experience via the body as the sole source of knowledge—wrote, in reference to his main work, The World as Will and Representation (1818), that “every part supports the whole just as much as it is supported by the whole… no part is first and no part last… the whole gains in clearness from every part, and even the smallest part cannot be fully understood until the whole has been first understood.” This is increasingly my impression with McKenna’s oeuvre*, and it’s how I view this list, which was edited down with difficulty from 100+ memes. I’ve included links to references whenever available.*His books The Archaic Revival (1992), Food of the Gods (1992), True Hallucinations (1993); his books co-authored with Dennis McKenna The Invisible Landscape (1975) and Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (1976); his trialogues with Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake, published in book form as Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness (1992) and The Evolutionary Mind (1998); hundreds of interviews and talks from the early 80s to the late 90s; and essays on topics ranging from ayahuasca to The Voynich Manuscript to Finnegans Wake and Philip K. Dick’s Valis.
1. “My technique, which I recommend to you, is, don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite” [“Under the Teaching Tree“].
Not believing was crucial to McKenna’s thinking and life. “In order to be free I must not believe anything,” he said. “Then all things can be freely commanded in the mind” [“Bootstrapping Ourselves“]. And: “I once said to the mushroom: Why me? Why are you telling me all this stuff? And it without hesitation said ‘because you don’t believe anything.’” (McKenna called the voice he dialogued with after eating psilocybin mushrooms “the mushroom.” I will explore this in week 6 of this column.)
You can read the other 29 memes over at VICE. As for Tao Lin, I’m glad to discover another McKenna appreciator! As memes go, it looks Terence’s memeplex is alive and well, seeping through the substrata of the counterculture and up onto the pop-culture carpeting. Keep on at it!