The Transcendental Object At The End Of Time

This documentary was created by Peter Bergmann. I’ll have more comments on this at some point, but for now I leave it here as something to consider. I would enjoy feedback from others.

Terence McKenna was an author, lecturer, philosopher and shamanic explorer of the realm of psychedelic states. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He has been described by some as being “so far out, nobody knows what he’s talking about”, and by others as “the most innovative thinker of our times”.

To shake us out of our perceptual torpor, McKenna played the holy fool, the crazy wisdom sage. He pushed our faces in the most exotic, lurid inventions of modern science and technology. What elevated him above most other prophets was that he delivered his prophesies with a wink, an implicit acknowledgement that ultimately reality is stranger than we CAN suppose.

McKenna’s métier was the spoken word — stand-up philosophy that meme-splices Alfred North Whitehead, Marshall McLuhan, James Joyce, William Blake and many others, delivered in a reedy, insinuating voice. Available throughout the Internet with titles like “Having Archaic and Eating it Too” and “Shedding the Monkey,” his lectures are tours de force of verbal virtuosity and pack-rat polymathy, leaping trippingly (in both senses of the word) from quantum mechanics to medieval alchemy, from the chaos theory of Ilya Prigogine to the neo-Platonism of Philo Judaeus.

One response to “The Transcendental Object At The End Of Time

  1. I’ve been listening to Terence Mckenna most of the latter part of my adult life. I’m old enough to have been listening to Leary during the former part. Like most my age, I got into and out of and into all of this, time and again, each time a little more disillusioned.

    Like western Buddhism, ecological/psychedelic/new age radical discourse has come to nought in the face of the capitalist juggernaut. What I like about these old videos, though, is that they allow you to access the living discourse as it was fashioned in the flesh, so to speak, by unique individuals. Or at least you get a real flavour of what it might have been like. I like to look at videos of Chogyam Trungpa, Leary, Burroughs, Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Malcom X… the list could go on and on… for the same reason. It helps thwart the temptation to the sterile critique that comes of the endless analysis of texts. Not that ideological critique is irrelevant, but that life ( and ideological critique) is lived on the wing, twice told, it’s true, but not a third by way of the Philosopher with a capital P..

    I went from New Age psychedelic alternative-ism, to left politics, to Buddhism, to Philosophy in that order. (think of climbing a spiral instead of walking a line ). I realised late that if we got all our philosophy from videos instead of texts, things might look up, if only because the living, flesh and blood individual in their so “two minutes ago” historical/cultural/discursive “date-ed-ness” would have to be the site of our meeting with a truth. It would put an end to the myth that the great philosophers never go out of date. It’s the cult of the text and the charismatic aura of the definitive work that allows for the illusion of the sufficiency of philosophy. Neither the cult of the leader or the cult of the absolute philosophical truth can survive for long the immediate presence of the leader or the philosopher. If only we had a video of Plato.

    How could you fall for the illusion of sufficiency in the presence of mckenna, for example? On the other hand, as the the temptation to turn the guru into a “cult of the guru” proves, the living presence of truth, in all of its idiosyncratic strangeness, will only be useful by a radical auto-deconstruction of the sort Dzogchen attempts. Which is to say, the only absolute truth is that the truth is always relative to a situation manifesting as this particular rock or this particular living being. Or, as Laruelle would put it, the living being is the condition for a truth and not the other way round.

    Strangely, this “living being” is not the being available to empirical science for inspection , although the biological/social being is the occasion of its appearance, or it’s last instance. Laruelle and Dzogchen (and likely a load of discourse I am ignorant of) insist on a unilateral real of the human, foreclosed to conceptual capture but inclusive of all attempts to do just that. No doubt if I were saying this in person you would see that what I say will never live up to the sheer “lived” of my existence. I am always one step ahead of what I say. Even stranger, I can listen to my-self speak.
    Timothy Morton, in an incredible fusion of object orientated philosophy and Dzogchen, makes the recitation of a sacred text the occasion for a simultaneous auto deconstruction of the truth of the text by way of the possibility of my being able to hear myself recite it!

    Hope that doesn’t make too much sense.

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