Wednesday, July 4, 2012

still-sound 81. Archaic Revival

The Archaic Revival is illustrated with collages 
attributed to Satty.

I just finished reading a fascinating collection of essays and interviews titled The Archaic Revival.  My interest in the evolution of human consciousness led me to its author, Terence McKenna.  The book's second title reveals the major themes associated with this anticonventional thinker:  Speculations on Psychedlic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History.

While reading The Archaic Revival I found a series of photos by David Sims 
published in Arena Homme + that seemed to match the mood of the book.

McKenna believes that psychedelic states of consciousness allow for communication with other intelligence.  I've never been particularly interested in drug cultures and in college found my friends' accounts of drug experimentation tediously boring.  I don't view McKenna with the same lense however.  He approaches DMT and ayahuasca as teachers or tools that allow entry to more-complex levels of consciousness rather than as vehicles for self-pleasure or entertainment. 

McKenna has participated in several ayahuasca ceremonies deep in the Amazon and in The Archaic Revival, describes a particular experience in great detail.*  Not only did a shaman narrate the ceremony through the medium of song, the psychedelic trip itself was narrated by another presence (this is, apparently common in DMT and ayahuasca journeys - they are often narrated and offer a particular message).  McKenna names the voice of the narrator the Overmind.** His reference to a narrator is not to be confused with imagination.  He received a message from a voice outside of his self.  The motto, or message that McKenna received, not unlike a Zen koan went something like this:  the Other is in man

The Other is in man.

This is pretty interesting.  The Other is internal, not external.  The alien is inside, not outside.  Fascinating.  I view this as a counterpart to another idea I've been thinking about; that The Source; whether one wants to call it God or Universal Intelligence or simply The Source - - like the Other, is also inside.

In addition to McKenna's ideas vis a vis consciousness I am also particularly interested in his writing describing the Vegetable Mind or the Gaian collectivity or organic life. He states:

Like plants, we need to maximize the qualities of connectedness and symbiosis.  Plant-based approaches to modeling the world include awareness of the fractal and branching nature of community action. 

I am inspired by this model.  It echoes a main principle behind permaculture which advocates smart design processes that mimic systems found in nature, as these systems have proven to function efficiently and within the delicate balance of the biosphere.

A treelike network of symbiotic relationships can now replace the model of evolution that we inherited from the nineteenth century.  The earlier model, that of the tooth-and-claw struggle for existence, with the survivor taking the hindmost, is a model based on naive observation of animal behavior.  Yet it was cheerfully extended in to the realm of plants to explain the evolutionary interactions thought to cause speciation in the botanical world.  Later, more sophisticated observers (C.H. Waddington and Erich Jantsch) found not the War in Nature that Darwinists reported but rather a situation in which it was not competitive ability but ability to maximize cooperation with other species that most directly contributed to an organism's being able to function and endure as a member of a biome.  Plants interact with each other through the tangled mat of roots that connects tham all to the source of their nutrition and to each other.***

photo by David Sims

*Ayahuasca is an Amazonian brew prepared from specific vines and leaves which when combined and ingested result in a rush of DMT.   The resulting visions are often described as otherworldly, enlightening and not necessarily pleasant.  It would seem that DMT journeys require a shaman or guide to help navigate the process.
**The description of McKenna's Overmind makes me think of Jung's Collective Unconscious.
***p 221, The Archaic Revival, Harper Collins, 1991.


  1. I like your blog, it's both relaxing and thought provoking--sincere too.

    "The other is internal, not external."

    This makes me think of Nisargatta: "I am that."

  2. "I am that."

    Beautifully put! Thanks so much Bruno.