16 Quotes From Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna (1946 – 2000) is the author of Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge – A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (1992) and True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise(1993) and other books (including two co-written with his brother, Dennis McKenna, whose 2012 memoir The Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss I recommend). Terence died from a brain tumor—”glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer” (Wikipedia)—at age 53.

You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.

My technique is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite.

I often like to think that our map of the world is wrong, that where we have centered physics, we should actually place literature as the central metaphor that we want to work out from. Because I think literature occupies the same relationship to life that life occupies to death. A book is life with one dimension pulled out of it. And life is something that lacks a dimension which death will give it. I imagine death to be a kind of release into the imagination in the sense that for characters in a book, what we experience is an unimaginable dimension of freedom.

Culture replaces authentic feeling with words. As an example of this, imagine an infant lying in its cradle, and the window is open, and into the room comes something, marvelous, mysterious, glittering, shedding light of many colors, movement, sound, a transformative hierophany of integrated perception and the child is enthralled and then the mother comes into the room and she says to the child, “that’s a bird, baby, that’s a bird,” instantly the complex wave of the angel peacock iridescent trans-formative mystery is collapsed, into the word. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky, and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of dis-empowered perception.

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