Terence McKenna

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Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, philosophy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He was called the “Timothy Leary of the ’90s”, “one of the leading authorities on the ontological foundations of shamanism”, and the “intellectual voice of rave culture“.

McKenna formulated a concept about the nature of time based on fractal patterns he claimed to have discovered in the I Ching, which he called novelty theory, proposing this predicted the end of time in the year 2012. His promotion of novelty theory and its connection to the Maya calendar is credited as one of the factors leading to the widespread beliefs about 2012 eschatology. Novelty theory is considered pseudoscience.”  — Wikipedia

“The truth can take care of itself. You don’t have to approach the truth with eyes lowered and gaze averted on bended knees. That’s how you approach bullshit. But the truth is so powerful that you can kick the tyres, turn over the engine, check the odometer and nobody is offended. Truth is real. It can stand the test. And that’s why I went all over the world looking at various spiritual traditions. I don’t feel it’s putting them down to say that they were ineffective, because they were all great aspirations but the only real open doorway that I ever found were the plants. This works. You know in other spiritual disciplines everyone wants to go faster. They want the roshi to give them further empowerments. They want further information, postures, secret teachings, so forth and so on. Once you reach the psychedelic experience the accellerator is far less interesting than the location of the brakes. That’s what we’re looking for. We all know how to push this so fast we can’t stand it. We need a feeling of unity. Feeling is primary. So it doesn’t come out of intellectual exhortation. It comes out of a personal act of courage made by the individual. It comes out of surrender of the individual. Surrender is the opposite side of the coin of the ego ”

Erik Davis

“Erik Davis (born June 12, 1967) is an American writer, scholar, journalist and public speaker whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is perhaps best known for his book Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, as well as his work on California counterculture, including Burning Man, the human potential movement, and the writings of Philip K. Dick.

Born in Redwood City, California in 1967, Davis grew up in Del Mar before attending Yale University, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English. He wrote a senior thesis on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, and has since written a number of articles in the popular press about Dick and his unusual religious experiences. Davis would go on to co-edit The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, which was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011.

While at Yale, Davis began writing for Nadine, an on-campus magazine that turned out a number of rock critics and pop culture writers in the 1980s and 1990s. Soon after graduation in 1988, Davis pitched his first story to the Village Voice, a review of the Swiss heavy metal band Celtic Frost.

Writing for the Village Voice throughout the early 1990s, Davis also contributed to Spin, Details, Rolling Stone, and Wired magazines, writing about music, art, film, pop culture and technology.

In July 1995, Davis published a piece in Wired magazine called “Technopagans”, which was one of the precursors for Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, a dense cultural history of the mystical, magical, and apocalyptic dreams and fantasies that haunt modern technoculture. Published by Harmony Books, the book is a cult classic of media studies and was eventually translated into five languages. It was re-released in paperback by Serpent’s Tail in 2004 with a new afterword.

Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Davis continued to write for both popular magazines and scholarly publications, and also expanded his speaking career, where his eclectic interests in subject ranging from music, art, popular culture and esoterica led to speaking engagements at such diverse venues as Stanford University, the British Museum, Burning Man, the Boom Festival, the Houston Jung Center, the Ojai Foundation, and Esalen.

In 2000, Davis won a Maggie Award for his profile of UFO contactee and Silicon Valley mogul Joe Firmage.

In 2005, he released his second book, Led Zeppelin IV, a monograph on the signature album from one of rock’s most celebrated bands, published by 33⅓. In 2006, Blender magazine included it in their list of the 40 Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Books.

In 2006, Davis cemented his reputation as a seminal writer of California counter-culture when he released The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape, a coffee table book of pictures and rich essays about California’s alternative spiritual movements and architecture. With photographs by Michael Rauner, the book was published by Chronicle Books. A prolific blogger for his site Techgnosis.com, Davis also released a fourth book in 2010, a collection of essays and journalism entitled Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica, published by Yeti Publishing.

In early 2006, Davis started working with composer Mark Nichols on the libretto for a rock opera inspired by Burning Man. The resulting production debuted in October of 2009 and was entitled How to Survive the Apocalypse: A Burning Opera, in which Davis also performed as the bunny-suited, bullhorn-wielding narrator. Davis also wrote extensively about West Coast festival culture in photographer Kyer Wiltshire’s 2009 book Tribal Revival.

In 2010, Davis began pursuing a PhD in Religious Studies at Rice University in their Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism program. He has taught courses at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Rice University, Pacifica, and CIIS.[citation needed]

Davis has appeared in a number of documentaries about technology and countercultural topics, including DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Electronic Awakening, and The Source Family. Along with Maja D’Aoust, he hosts a weekly podcast devoted to the “cultures of consciousness” called Expanding Mind, which is part of the Progressive Radio Network.” (Wikipedia)

Antonin Artaud

“Considered among the most influential figures in the evolution of modern drama theory, Antonin Artaud associated himself with Surrealist writers, artists, and experimental theater groups in Paris during the 1920s. When political differences resulted in his break from the Surrealists, he founded the Theatre Alfred Jarry with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron. Together they hoped to create a forum for works that would radically change French theater. Artaud, especially, expressed disdain for Western theater of the day, panning the ordered plot and scripted language his contemporaries typically employed to convey ideas, and he recorded his ideas in such works as Le Theatre de la cruaute and The Theater and Its Double.

Most critics believe that Artaud’s most noted contribution to drama theory is his “theater of cruelty,” an intense theatrical experience that combined elaborate props, magic tricks, special lighting, primitive gestures and articulations, and themes of rape, torture, and murder to shock the audience into confronting the base elements of life. Les Cenci, Artaud’s play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered by men the girl hires to eliminate him, typifies Artaud’s theater of cruelty. Les Cenci was produced in Paris in 1935 but was closed after seventeen dismal performances. Another example of Artaud’s work is The Fountain of Blood, a farce about the creation of the world and its destruction by humans, especially women. Like many of Artaud’s other plays, scenarios, and prose, Les Cenci and The Fountain of Blood were designed to challenge conventional, civilized values and bring out the natural, barbaric instincts Artaud felt lurked beneath the refined, human facade. Of The Fountain of Blood, Albert Bermel wrote in Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty: “All in all, The Fountain of Blood is a tragic, repulsive, impassioned farce, a marvelous wellspring for speculation, and a unique contribution to the history of the drama.”

Although Artaud’s theater of cruelty was not widely embraced, his ideas have been the subject of many essays on modern theater, and many writers continue to study Artaud’s concepts. Author George E. Wellwarth, for example, in Drama Survey, explained the theater of cruelty as “the impersonal, mindless—and therefore implacable—cruelty to which all men are subject. The universe with its violent natural forces was cruel in Artaud’s eyes, and this cruelty, he felt, was the one single most important fact of which man must be aware. . . . Artaud’s theater must be ecstatic. It must crush and hypnotize the onlooker’s sense.” Another description of the theater of cruelty was offered by Wallace Fowlie in an essay published in Sewanee Review. Fowlie wrote: “A dramatic presentation should be an act of initiation during which the spectator will be awed and even terrified. . . . During that experience of terror or frenzy . . . the spectator will be in a position to understand a new set of truths, superhuman in quality.”

Artaud’s creative abilities were developed, in part, as a means of therapy during the artist’s many hospitalizations for mental illness. While being treated in a hospital by Edouard Toulouse, Artaud was encouraged to express himself in poetry, which Toulouse later published in the journal Demain. Artaud’s life and his work, despite the efforts of psychotherapy, reflected his mental afflictions and were further complicated by his dependence on narcotics. At times he expressed faith in God; other times he denounced the Church and deified himself. He was also obsessed with the human body; he loathed the idea of sex and expressed a desire to separate himself from his sexual self.

In Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision, author Bettina L. Knapp wrote of the theorist’s mental illness: “Artaud was unable to adapt to life; he could not relate to others; he was not even certain of his own identity.” Knapp commented that “Artaud was in essence constructing an entire metaphysical system around his sickness, or, if you will, entering the realm of the mystic via his own disease. The focal point of his universe was himself and everything radiated from him outward.” Referring to Artaud’s The Umbilicus of Limbo, Knapp indicated Artaud “intended to ‘derange man,’ to take people on a journey ‘where they would never have consented to go.'” She further explained, “Since Artaud’s ideas concerning the dramatic arts were born from his sickness, he looked upon the theater as a curative agent; a means whereby the individual could come to the theater to be dissected, split and cut open first, and then healed.” Knapp also offered an explanation of Artaud’s popularity long after his death: “In his time, he was a man alienated from his society, divided within himself, a victim of inner and outer forces beyond his control. . . . The tidal force of his imagination and the urgency of his therapeutic quest were disregarded and cast aside as the ravings of a madman. . . . Modern man can respond to Artaud now because they share so many psychological similarities and affinities.”

Similar words were issued in a Horizon essay by Sanche de Gramont, who wrote of Artaud: “If he was mad, he welcomed his madness. . . . To him the rational world was deficient; he welcomed the hallucinations that abolished reason and gave meaning to his alienation. He purposely placed himself outside the limits in which sanity and madness can be opposed, and gave himself up to a private world of magic and irrational visions.”

Artaud spent nine of his last eleven years confined in mental facilities but continued to write, producing some of his finest poetry during the final three years of his life, according to biographer Susan Sontag. “Not until the great outburst of writing in the period between 1945 and 1948 . . . did Artaud, by then indifferent to the idea of poetry as a closed lyric statement, find a long-breathed voice that was adequate to the range of his imaginative needs—a voice that was free of established forms and open-ended, like the poetry of [Ezra] Pound.” However, Sontag, other biographers, and reviewers agree that Artaud’s primary influence was on the theater. According to Sontag, Artaud “has had an impact so profound that the course of all recent serious theater in Western Europe and the Americas can be said to divide into two periods—before Artaud and after Artaud.”” (Poetryfoundation)

Daniel Pinchbeck

“Pinchbeck was a founder of the 1990s literary magazine Open City with fellow writers Thomas Beller and Robert Bingham. He has written for many publications, including Esquire, The New York Times Magazine,[3] The Village Voice,[4] and Rolling Stone. In 1994 he was chosen by The New York Times Magazine as one of “Thirty Under Thirty” destined to change our culture through his work with Open City.[5] He has been a regular columnist for a number of magazines, including Dazed & Confused.

In Breaking Open the Head, Pinchbeck explored shamanism via ceremonies with tribal groups such as the Bwiti of Gabon, who eat iboga, and the Secoya people in the Ecuadorean Amazon, who take the psychedelic tryptamine brew ayahuasca in their ceremonies.[6] He also attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada,[7] and looked at use of psychedelic substances in a de-sacralized modern context. Philosophically influenced by the work of anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner,[8][9] through his direct experience and research Pinchbeck developed the hypothesis that shamanic and mystical views of reality have validity, and that the modern world had forfeited an understanding of intuitive aspects of being in its pursuit of rational materialism.

Drawing heavily, and somewhat controversially, from material shared on the Breaking Open the Head forums, Pinchbeck’s second volume, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, chronicles Mayan and Hopi prophecies,[10] and follows Pinchbeck’s travels and travails as he responds to leads, both physical and intellectual, he receives via this forum. Examining the nature of prophecy, Pinchbeck investigates the New Age hypothesis of Terence McKenna that humanity is experiencing an accelerated process of global consciousness transformation, leading to a new understanding of time and space during this period. The book details the psi or extra-sensory perception research of Dean Radin, the theories of Terence McKenna, the phenomena of crop circles, and a visit to calendar reform advocate José Argüelles. Pinchbeck concludes with an account of receiving a transmission of prophetic material by the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl,.[10] This claim was enough to get the book dropped by its planned publisher, delaying its release for the greater part of a year. While acknowledging the validity of such an experience is unknown, Pinchbeck describes how a voice identifying itself as Quetzalcoatl began speaking to him during a 2004 trip to the Amazon in Brazil. At the time, he was in the Amazon, participating in ceremonies of the Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion that uses ayahuasca as its sacrament. Through its references to 2012 and the Maya calendar in the context of New Age beliefs, Pinchbeck’s book has contributed to Mayanism.

In May 2007, Pinchbeck launched Reality Sandwich. He is the executive producer of Postmodern Times, a series of web videos presented on the iClips Network, and co-founder of Evolver.net, an online social network.[11][12] His life and work are featured in the documentary 2012: Time for Change, featuring interviews with Sting, David Lynch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others.

In August 2013, Pinchbeck became the host of Mind Shift, a new talk show, filmed in New York City, produced by Gaiam TV.

In February 2017, Watkins Press will publish his new book, How Soon Is Now? [1] in the US and UK. The book’s thesis is that the ecological crisis is a rite of passage or initiation for humanity collectively, forcing us to reach the next level of our consciousness as a species. The book outlines the changes to our technical infrastructure – agriculture, energy, industry – and our social, political, and economic system that Pinchbeck deems necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, species extinction, and so on.” (Wikipedia)

Graham Hancock

“Hancock describes himself as an “unconventional thinker who raises controversial questions about humanity’s past”.[5] Prior to 1990 his works dealt mainly with problems of economic and social development. Since 1990 his works have focused mainly on speculative connections he makes between various archaeological, historical, and cross-cultural phenomena.

His books include Lords of Poverty, The Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, Keeper of Genesis (released in the US as Message of the Sphinx), The Mars Mystery, Heaven’s Mirror (with wife Santha Faiia), Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, and Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith (with co-author Robert Bauval). In 1996 he appeared in The Mysterious Origins of Man.[6] He also wrote and presented the documentaries Underworld: Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age (2002) and Quest for the Lost Civilisation (1998)[7] shown on Channel 4.

In Hancock’s book Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith,[8] co-authored with Robert Bauval, the two put forward what sociologist of religion David V. Barrett called “a version of the old Jewish-Masonic plot so beloved by ultra-right-wing conspiracy theorists.”[9] They suggest a connection between the pillars of Solomon’s Temple and the Twin Towers, and between the Star of David and The Pentagon.[10] A contemporary review of Talisman by David V. Barrett for The Independent pointed to a lack of originality as well as basic factual errors, concluding that it was “a mish-mash of badly-connected, half-argued theories”.[11] In a 2008 piece for The Telegraph referencing Talisman, Damian Thompson described Hancock and Bauval as fantasists.[12]

Hancock’s Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, was published in the UK in October 2005 and in the US in 2006. In it, Hancock examines paleolithic cave art in the light of David Lewis-Williams’ neuropsychological model, exploring its relation to the development of the fully modern human mind.

In 2015, his Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization was published by St. Martin’s Press.

His first novel, Entangled: The Eater of Souls, the first in a fantasy series, was published in the UK in April 2010 and in the US in October 2010. The novel makes use of Hancock’s prior research interests and as he has noted, “What was there to lose, I asked myself, when my critics already described my factual books as fiction?”

His books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated to 27 languages.”