Wednesday, September 13, 2006

McKenna's "Stoned Ape" theory of human evolution

Excerpts from on-line documents in which McKenna discusses his theory

From an interview with Terence McKenna in High Times magazine:

HT: From your writings I have gleaned that you subscribe to the notion that psilocybin mushrooms are a species of high intelligence -- that they arrived on this planet as spores that migrated through outer space, and are attempting to establish a symbiotic relationship with human beings. In a more holistic perspective, how do you see this notion fitting into the context of Francis Crick's theory of directed panspermia, the hypothesis that all life on this planet and its directed evolution has been seeded, or perhaps fertilized, by spores designed by a higher intelligence?

TM: As I understand the Crick theory of panspermia, it's a theory of how life spread through the universe. What I was suggesting -- and I don't believe it as strongly as you imply -- is that intelligence, not life, but intelligence may have come here in this spore-bearing life form. This is a more radical version of the panspermia theory of Crick and Ponampurama. In fact I think that theory will probably be vindicated. I think in a hundred years if people do biology they will think it quite silly that people once thought that spores could not be blown from one star system to another by cosmic radiation pressure. As far as the role of the psilocybin mushroom, or its relationship to us and to intelligence, this is something that we need to consider. It really isn't important that I claim that it's an extraterrestrial, what we need is a body of people claiming this, or a body of people denying it, because what we're talking about is the experience of the mushroom. Few people are in a position to judge its extraterrestrial potential, because few people in the orthodox sciences have ever experienced the full spectrum of psychedelic effects that are unleashed. One cannot find out whether or not there's an extraterrestrial intelligence inside the mushroom unless one is willing to take the mushroom.

HT: You have a unique theory about the role that psilocybin mushrooms play in the process of human evolution. Can you tell us about this?

TM: Whether the mushrooms came from outer space or not, the presence of psychedelic substances in the diet of early human beings created a number of changes in our evolutionary situation. When a person takes small amounts of psilocybin visual acuity improves. They can actually see slightly better, and this means that animals allowing psilocybin into their food chain would have increased hunting success, which means increased food supply, which means increased reproductive success, which is the name of the game in evolution. It is the organism that manages to propagate itself numerically that is successful. The presence of psilocybin in the diet of early pack-hunting primates caused the individuals that were ingesting the psilocybin to have increased visual acuity. At slightly higher doses of psilocybin there is sexual arousal, erection, and everything that goes under the term arousal of the central nervous system. Again, a factor which would increase reproductive success is reinforced.

HT: Isn't it true that psilocybin inhibits orgasm?

TM: Not at the doses I'm talking about. At a psychedelic dose it might, but at just slightly above the "you can feel it" dose, it acts as a stimulant. Sexual arousal means paying attention, it means jumpiness, it indicates a certain energy level in the organism. And then, of course, at still higher doses psilocybin triggers this activity in the language-forming capacity of the brain that manifests as song and vision. It is as though it is an enzyme which stimulates eyesight, sexual interest, and imagination. And the three of these going together produce language-using primates. Psilocybin may have synergized the emergence of higher forms of psychic organization out of primitive protohuman animals. It can be seen as a kind of evolutionary enzyme, or evolutionary catalyst.

HT: There is a lot of current interest in the ancient art of sound technology. In a recent article you said that in certain states of consciousness you're able to create a kind of visual resonance and manipulate a "topological manifold" using sound vibrations. Can you tell us more about this technique, its ethnic origins, and potential applications?

TM: Yes, it has to do with shamanism that is based on the use of DMT in plants. DMT is a near- or pseudo-neurotransmitter, that when ingested and allowed to come to rest in the synapses of the brain, allows one to see sound, so that one can use the voice to produce, not musical compositions, but pictoral and visual compositions. This, to my mind, indicates that we're on the cusp of some kind of evolutionary transition in the language-forming area, we are going to go from a language that is heard, to a language that is seen, through a shift in interior processing. The language will still be made of sound, but it will be processed as the carrier of the visual impression. This is actually being done by shamans in the Amazon. The songs they sing sound as they do in order to look a certain way. They are not musical compositions as we're used to thinking of them. They are pictoral art created by audio signals.

There is much more here.


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