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Terence K. McKenna

language is evolving at a much slower rate than is the ability of human consciousness to navigate more complex and more profound levels of reality. How do you see language developing and evolving so as to become a more sensitive transceiving device for sharing conscious experience?

Terence: Actually, consciousness can’t evolve any faster than language. The rate at which language evolves determines how fast consciousness evolves, otherwise you’re just lost in what Wittgenstein called the unspeakable. You can feel it, but you can’t speak of it, so it’s an entirely private reality. Have you noticed how we have very few words for emotions? I love you, I hate you, and then basically we run a dial between those. I love you a lot, I hate you a lot.

RMN: How do you feel? Fine.

Terence: Yes, how do you feel, fine, and yet we have thousands and thousands of words about rugs, and widgets, and this and that, so we need to create a much richer language of emotion. There are times–and this would be a great study for somebody to do–there have been periods in English when there were emotions which don’t exist anymore, because the words have been lost. This is getting very close to this business of how reality is made by language. Can we recover a lost emotion, by creating a word for it? There are colors which don’t exist any more because the words have been lost. I’m thinking of the word “jacinth.” This is a certain kind of orange. Once you know the word “jacinth,” you always can recognize it, but if you don’t have it, all you can say is it’s a little darker orange than something else. We’ve never tried to consciously evolve our language, we’ve just let it evolve, but now we have this level of awareness, and this level of cultural need where we really must plan where the new words should be generated. There are areas where words should be gotten rid of that empower political wrong thinking. The propagandists for the fascists already understand this, they understand that if you make something unsayable, you’ve made it unthinkable. So it doesn’t plague you anymore. So planned evolution of language is the way to speed it toward expressing the frontier of consciousness.

DJB: I’ve thought at times that what you view as a symbiosis forming between humans and psychoactive plants may in fact be the plants taking over control of our lives and commanding us to do their bidding. Have you any thoughts on this?

Terence: Well, symbiosis is not parasitism, symbiosis is a situation of mutual benefit to both parties, so we have to presume that the plants are getting as much out of this as we are. What we’re getting is information from another spiritual level. Their point of view, in other words, is what they’re giving us. What we’re giving them is care, and feeding, and propagation, and survival, so they give us their elevated higher dimensional point of view. We in turn respond by making the way easier for them in the physical world. And this seems a reasonable trade-off. Obviously they have difficulty in the physical world, plants don’t move around much. You talk about Tao, a plant has the Tao. It doesn’t even chop wood and carry water.

RMN: Future predictions are often based upon the study of previous patterns and trends which are then extended like the contours of a map to extrapolate the shape of things to come. The future can also be seen as an ongoing dynamic creative interaction between the past and the present–the current interpretation of past events actively serves to formulate these future patterns and trends. Have you been able to reconcile these two perspectives so that humanity is able to learn from its experiences without being bound by the habits of history?

Terence: The two are antithetical. You must not be bound by the habits of history if you want to learn from your experience. It was Ludwig von Bertallanfy, the inventor of general systems theory, who made the famous statement that “people are not machines, but in all situations where they are given the opportunity, they will act like machines,” so you have to keep disturbing them, ’cause they always settle down into a routine. So, historical patterns are largely cyclical, but not entirely; there is ultimately a highest level of the pattern which does not repeat, and that’s the part which is responsible for the advance into true novelty.

RMN: The part that doesn’t repeat. Hmm. The positive futurists tend to fall into two groups. Some visualize the future as becoming progressively brighter every day and that global illumination will occur as a result of this progression; others envision a period of actual devolution, a dark age, through which human consciousness must pass before more advanced stages are reached. Which scenario do you see as being the most likely to emerge, and why do you hold this view?

Terence: I guess I’m a soft Dark Ager. I think there will be a mild dark age, I don’t think it will be anything like the dark ages which

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