Terence McKenna on Marijuana

Marijuana has the status of taboo in polite society. My interest in Marijuana has been intense and lifelong. I remember when I first encountered it, within minutes of my first exposure to it, I realized I was going to be able to self-medicate myself to normalcy. That the mere smoking of a small amount of vegetable-material could completely invert the structures of my personality, and socialize me into a reasonably functioning member of the community in which I found myself.

I first encountered Cannabis at Berkley in 1965. It took a couple, or three exposures to it before I really sorted out what it was doing for me.

Within just a few months I had integrated into my lifestyle as the central practice of my life, and it has remained so up until just two or three months ago, when under the pressure of my apparently dissolving marriage, I stopped smoking in order to see, really, what sort of effect it would have.

I found myself in the absurd position of being in psychotherapy with a woman who I respected very much and who seemed to be a very skilled psychotherapist, except that she had no sophistication whatsoever about Cannabis. And the therapeutic process kept looping back to the issue of my Cannabis ingestion.

She would ask me... How Many times a day do you do this? And I would say, ah, ten to fourteen times a day.

And she would say, "how many years have you been doing this?"

twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven years. I finally, I saw that it was impeding the therapeutic process. Not in it's physical effects - but in it's effects on her attitude towards me. So I determined simply to stop, in order to remove this issue from the menu of issues we were dealing with in this therapeutic process. And I'm happy to report that though at that time I was the heaviest and most continuous cannabis user I have ever known or heard of, it was no big deal. I simply stopped smoking it and took up reading in the evenings. And it seemed to have no impact on my psychological life whatsoever except that my dream life became considerably more interesting in the wake of that decision. And over the years in my travelling there have been times when for just a few days my access to cannabis was interrupted. I noticed this same phenomenon that in the absence of Cannabis the dream life seems to become much richer.

Cannabis must, in some sense, thin the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind. I imagine the unconscious as like a system under hydraulic pressure. And if you smoke cannabis the energy which would normally be channelled into dreams is instead manifest in the reverie of the cannabis intoxication.

The reason that I have smoked it so assiduously over the years is that it seems to dissolve the boundaries of a local and personal perspective. If I don't smoke Cannabis I worry about balancing my cheque book, the state of my immediate short term career concerns. In other words, all the anxieties of the petty bourgeois pour in to claim my attention. But with Cannabis I'm able to roam and scan through vast intellectual worlds that is composed of all the books I've ever read, all of the people I've ever known, all the places I've ever been - in no particular order.

What I really value about Cannabis is the way it allows one to be taken by surprise by unexpected ideas.

In the absence of Cannabis, my creativity is kind of a brick by brick linear extrapolation. If, on the other hand, if I smoke Cannabis, I can go from one moment to thinking about Goethe's color theory, to the next moment, puzzling over a particular instance in Mayan historiography - the examples are endless.


"I never wanted to big up any drugs, because I don't reckon they deserve it. It's just something that you choose to do. I probably come across as, like, 'Yeah, acid and weed are amazing.' But I don't think that at all, really. And if I did, I wouldn't want to say it in an interview. Plus, I'm never under the influence of drugs when I make music. Whenever I have been, it's always been totally rubbish. It's a real disciplined thing, making music. When you're tripping, you're just fucked. You could never get it together to make a track. When I'm stoned, I go to bed."
(Richard James, aka Aphex Twin)

"You depend on her; she has given you her body, her emotions, her encouragement, a certain feeling of security and well-being. Then she turns away from you; she gets bored or goes off with someone else, and your whole emotional balance is destroyed, and this disturbance, which you don't like, is called jealousy. There is pain in it, anxiety, hate and violence. So what you are really saying is, `As long as you belong to me I love you but the moment you don't I begin to hate you. As long as I can rely on you to satisfy my demands, sexual and otherwise, I love you, but the moment you cease to supply what I want I don't like you.' So there is antagonism between you, there is separation, and when you feel separate from another there is no love."
(Jiddu Krishnamurti, on Love)

"But isn't doing good out of pity a good thing? No, Nietzsche said. If you want to help somebody, do with shame; avoid any hint of pity, don't allow the helpee to feel inferior. Better still, don't even let the person know you're helping them. All of this might seem positively anal-retentive in our emotionally-sloppy modern culture, but we should remember Nietzsche's focus on psychic hygiene, that is, a wise and prudent management of what we feel and how strongly we feel it."
(By Wael Al-Mahdi)