May 17th, 2011 | spirit tracks
I’ve cited McKenna a lot over the years. The last of the great American magical thinkers, at least for a while – no-one’s followed him with any success, although many, both genuine apostles and creepy chancers, have tried. The last half of his life was pretty much a public exegesis, trying to quantify and contextualise his drug experiences in the same way that Philip K Dick obsessively wrote his own self-interrogative Exegesis document. He sometimes conflated his UFO experience with his fascination with psylocibin, conflating it with the neurochemical payload of the mushroom. Even his visualisation of the UFO, as a classic George Adamski vehicle, has something of the bemushroomed about it.
Two things to note about McKenna’s experience. One, he sat in a very particular place, on the advice of a local contact, and told to watch a very specific portion of the sky. UFO appearances were apparently semi-regular in this area. I don’t know exactly where McKenna was, but neighbouring Chile and Peru sit on the join between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates… and while central Brazilian "mid-plate events" are supposedly fairly rare, they do happen, and they can happen deep in the remote Amazon forest. I like to imagine the young McKenna sitting in the Amazon basin without a clue that he was actually in some vast electromagnetic well, the South American plate beneath his feet flexing and cracking under weird torsion… and then there is strange weather, there are earthlights, and Terence McKenna’s magnetically-boiled temporal lobe sees whatever’s throwing itself out of the ground as burning hauntology, as a ghost of space, as memories of the future…
(Nazca, of course, bears on its plains huge geoglyphs that Erich von Daniken claimed, in his book CHARIOTS OF THE GODS, could be nothing less than airfield markings for alien spacecraft.)