Terence McKenna hypothesizes that as the North African jungles receded, giving way to savannas and grasslands near the end of the most recent ice age, a branch of our arboreal primate ancestors left the forest canopy and began living in the open areas beyond. There they experimented with new varieties of foods as they adapted, physically and mentally, to the environment. Among the new foods found in this environment were psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing near dung of ungulate herds occupying the savannas and grasslands.
Referencing the research of Roland L. Fisher, McKenna claims the enhancement of visual acuity was an effect of psilocybin at low doses and suggests this would confer adaptive advantage. He argues that the effects of slightly larger doses, including sexual arousal, and in larger doses, ecstatic hallucinations & glossolalia - gave selective evolutionary advantages to members of those tribes who partook of it. There were many changes caused by the introduction of this psychoactive to primate diets. He hypothesizes, for instance, that synesthesia (the blurring of sensory boundaries) caused by psilocybin led to the development of spoken language: the ability to form pictures in another person's mind through the use of vocal sounds.
About 12,000 years ago, further climate changes removed psilocybin-containing mushrooms from human diets. He argues that this event resulted in a new set of profound changes in our species as we reverted to the previous brutal primate social structures that had been modified and/or repressed by frequent consumption of psilocybin.
©1992 Terrence McKenna (P)2012 Tantor
"Deserves to be a modern classic on mind-altering drugs and hallucinogens." (The Washington Post)
This was my first time using an audio edition for non-fiction. I cannot say that it is better than the print version, because I'm one who likes to go back over pithy contents again and again, and that's a bit tough to do with an audio recording. I did learn how to use the bookmarks to mark the places I wanted to return to, but it's still not as easy as marking a print copy and thumbing back to it. I love audio for fiction, but this book introduced a lot of new concepts to me, so it was slow going. Early on I reduced the rate of play to 50%, which had the curious effect of sounding like McKenna himself reading it. Which tells me a lot about McKenna and the effects of his personal explorations: he knew a slower, unhurried and less stressful existence, one that plants themselves might teach.
McKenna's statement that, "If the ego is not regularly and repeatedly dissolved in the unbounded hyperspace of the Transcendent Other, there will always be slow drift away from the sense of self as part of nature's larger whole. The ultimate consequence of this is the fatal ennui that now permeates Western civilization."
There aren't exactly "scenes" in a non-fiction book, but McKenna does begin some chapters with vignettes of daily life in the tribes he is exploring. Each one builds on the last and provides new eye-opening information.
Brilliant, paradigm-shifting, research and reflection on a very important subject.
The best part of audio books is that I can use them when exercising, driving, etc. but I will likely purchase the print or Kindle version of the book as well.
Very High, amazing book!!! great perspective!
you will find here stuff not many people are talking about, this not drug propaganda but a serious reflection of our society and the drugs it prefers and condemn.
the fact sugar and coffee have a full chapter in the history of human compassion of drugs, made me really rethink the whole thing.
Phenomenal depiction of the history of plant usage and the exploration of one's self. The undeniable relationship with nature is one to be shared with the world.
For the record: never done mushrooms and was concerned this would be some rambling hippy-dippy nonsense about pretty colors changing the world. It was none of that. It was far more methodical and scientific and while some of the concepts are no doubt...out there, it became clear the only reason they are still "out there" is because we've brushed this topic under the rug far too long. Whether this topic is uncomfortable for some people or not is noteworthy because books like this get stigmatized as just some guy on drugs. I've stigmatized things this way too. However, I'd say that McKenna is every bit a pioneer as Lewis and Clark and others exploring new frontiers. The only difference is that McKenna's frontier was the human brain and its ability to engage and communicate in alternate but somehow still natural realities. I have no idea if his experiences have legitimacy but what he's documented, analyzed and shared is something that at least deserves far more research. It's fairly well documented how little of our brain capacity we actually use and when you hear what's explained in this book and the history behind some of these plants, any rational person would ask whether topics like this begin to shed light on what is possible with the human brain. If your politics and religious beliefs tell you there's nothing more to learn about the human brain and how we interact with nature, that's fine. There will be a special place in history for you. Bottomline: this entire field of study deserves far more research.
Disapointment: what I was looking for was a well-researched, anthropological take on the use of psychoactive substances throughout human history; what I got was more like an episode of Ancient Aliens, but with psilocybin as the subject matter. This guy makes some pretty questionable assertions early in the book and then things get worse. I just have one rule: if you're going to say crazy things, back it up with relevant evidence. The crazier you get, the more evidence you need. This book does not follow that rule. The author is in left field and thinks he's playing first. When he brought up the vibrating skull theory I knew I had stumbled on some real cow shit. No shrooms, just shit.
Hello, My name is Levi Brousseau. I'm on a life long mission to find stories that blow my mind.
Yes i will. there is so much T.M. has to say.
This story has a buffet of things to chew on a digest. I love getting lost in the mind of T.M. If you have an open mind ,this is a great book for you. I do wish T.M. could have narrated the book himself.
I really enjoyed it, but I must read/listen to it again to get the most of all the historical data contained within.
Terence is GREAT, the narrator is completely off !
After being a follower of McKenna and having enjoyed many many hours of his workshop and conferences (and being amused by his eloquence in his memorable voice and intonation) , I could not resist for more than 2 minutes the way in which this narrator reads the humble and harmonic message of Terence. This guy is reading Terence theory as if it was breaking news in the 80s. I REALLY COULDN'T RESIST IT ! and I wanted so bad...
Steve Buscemi - Great look alike, even the voice (Terence's most noticeable feature) is similar.
Dissapointing narration, obviously this guy didn't took the trouble to listen to Terence, otherwise he wouldn't have made such a terrible, abominable and even ironic (sounds exactly like the TV media that McKenna was againts).
What a shame, looking for other books from Terence read by someone who knows about him.
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