Alex Peek blog

List of posts    Blog archive    About


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Terence McKenna: Opening the Doors of Creativity


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Jon Hanna

Photo license: CC BY-SA 3.0


This post is a collection of quotes from Terence McKenna's lecture Opening the Doors of Creativity (1990). A recording of this lecture can be found at this link. There are 24 quotes listed below chronologically.


1. "The theme that unites these lectures is creativity and the techniques by which the artist can refine his or her vison, expand the vision and communicated the vision..."


2. "Nature is the great visible engine of creativity against which all other creative efforts are measured."


3. "During of the life of the universe, as temperatures have fallen, more and more complex structures have arisen."


4. "...the prototypic figure for the artist as well as the scientist is the shaman. The shaman is the figure at the beginning of human history that unites the doctor, the scientist and the artist into a single notion of caregiving and creativity."


5. "Beginning with the Romantics, there is a new permission to explore the irrational. This really is the bridge back to the archaic shamanic function of the artist. Permission to explore the irrational. Permission for the irrational imagery of the unconscious."


6. "Human language represents an ontological break of major magnitude with anything else on this planet."


7. "I use this in the broadest sense. For me the glory of the human animal is cognitive activity. Song, dance, sculpture, poetry, all of these cognitive activities, when we participate in them we cross out of the domain of animal organization into the domain of a genuine relationship to the transcendent."


8. "Artists, alone among human beings are given permission to talk in terms of 'my inspiration', or 'a voice which told me to do this', or 'a vision that must be realized'."


9. "The thin thread of the shamanic descent into our profane world leads through the office of the artist, so if society is somehow able to take hold of itself at this penultimate moment as we literally waver on the brink of planetary extinction, then the artist... is going to have to follow the shamanic thread back through time."


10. "The psychedelic experience shows you more art in an hour and a half than the human species has produced in 15 or 20 thousand years."


11. "Culture is a plot against the expansion of consciousness and this plot prosecutes its goals through a limiting of language. Language is the battleground over which the fight will take place because what we cannot say, we cannot communicate."


12. "What motivates me to talk to groups like this, is the belief that we don't have centuries of gently unfolding time ahead of us in which to gently tease apart the threads of the human endeavor and create a bright new world. That's not our circumstance. This a fire in a madhouse."


13. "We want to catalyze consciousness. We want to move it faster towards its goals, whatever those goals are."


14. "Now what we really need, as we see ourselves moving from one species among tens of thousands of species on this planet, over the last ten thousand years we have redefined ourselves and now, like it or not, we are the custodians of the destiny of this planet."


15. "What I'm hopeful for and what I actually see happening, I mean I think we're on the right track, is the birth of a new kind of humanity is going to take place. But there are still a lot of decisions to be made... These are the decisions that artists can mediate and control."


16. "In a way, it's the poets that have failed us because they have not provided a song, or sung a vision that we could all move in concert to."


17. "So now, we are in the absurd position of being able to do anything and what we are doing is fouling our own nest and pushing ourselves towards planetary toxification and extinction. This is because the poets, the artists have not articulated a moral vision. The moral vision must come from the unconscious."


18. "Art's task is to save the soul of mankind and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns... If the artist cannot find the way, the way cannot be found."


19. "I believe that a world without ideology could be created if what were put in place of ideology were the notion of the realization of the good, the true and the beautiful."


20. "Human history is an adventure and this adventure has a number of startling reverses and sudden plot shifts that are very difficult to anticipate and we are coming up on one of those... No one of us knows what the shape of the new civilization will be."


21. "Each artist is an antenna to the transcendental other and as we go with our own history into that thing, and then create a unique confluence of our uniqueness and its uniqueness we collectively create an arrow out of history, out of time, perhaps out of matter that will redeem the idea that man is good."


22. "I see history as an alchemical task and process. And the artist as the artificer. It is the task of the artist to complete this alchemical concrescence and its kind of an irrational thing."


23. "We are the prodigal species. We have descended into the inferno of matter to recover the pearl of immortality. The pearl of immortality is the perfected and reconstructed Earth. And somehow we are to be the critical factor in this equation or point species. We are not acting for ourselves."


24. "I am very optimistic. I think we are awakening to a new day from a long, long night of the soul, but it must be done collectively, gently, lovingly and with the complete faith that we are an infant in held in the arms of nature. That nature wants this to happen."