"Well, what’s wrong with the operating system that we have? Consumer capitalism 5.0 or whatever it is. Well, it’s dumb! It’s retro, it’s very non-competitive. It’s messy, it wastes the environment, it wastes human resources, it’s inefficient, it runs on stereotypes, it runs on a low sampling rate, which is what creates stereotypes, low sample rates make everybody appear alike, when in fact the glory is in everyone’s differences, and the current operating system is flawed. It actually has bugs in it, that generate contradictions. Contradictions such as we’re cutting the earth from beneath our feet. We’re poisoning the atmosphere that we breathe. This is not intelligent behavior. This is a culture with a bug in its operating system that’s making it produce erratic, dysfunctional, malfunctional behavior. Time to call a tech. And who are the techs? The shamans are the techs."
"Our theories of law, our theories of government, our notion of justice, our notions of city planning, of architecture, military planning and so forth, are all drawn from classical Greek and Roman models that were brought back from the dead five hundred years ago by a bunch of Italian investment bankers who thought that this was a good model to build on, to hang their civilization on. And now this has run out. The contradictions are too extreme. This classicism, I don't want to say it's failed, but it has just taken us as far as it can go. So now again, we confront great existential confusion, we confront cultural values completely different from our own such as rainforest aborigines and so forth. We confront the toxic legacy of modern science, the retreating species counts of the earth, the decaying atmosphere, all these things. So we must now reach far back into time for a new cultural model. Our crisis is so great that we have to reach back to the high paleolithic, to the moment immediately before the invention of agriculture and the creation of the dominator ego. People talk about the new age and the new paradigm and this and that, well it's larger than that."
"The contradictions are heightened almost to the point of nausea, because what is under discussion is how - what manner of fine-tuning shall be applied to the social machinery in order to make it possible to hold together the illusion of business as usual. And the answer is; There is no such fine-tuning. And instead what is needed is a radical openness to new ideas of all sorts, and I believe that once the radical openness to new ideas is given respectability, the boundless creativity of the human mind will be tapped into and come to our aid, but we have to stop trying to preserve a status-quo which has made us neurotic and self-defeating, admit that we have wandered long in the wilderness and then begin to talk about: what should be done about it?"
"The appalling contradiction presented by modernity, where the major portion of real wealth of great nations is shoveled into a standing prop of weaponry which had better never be used because if it is used, it spells Armageddon. If it's not used, it's simply the worst investment anybody ever dreamed up. So, this kind of betrayal of language and use of scapegoats- see that's what was happening with the United States vis-a-vis the Soviet Union- the scapegoat, the godless communist. It's what was happening in the Putumayo between the rubber barons and the Indians they were exploiting. They thought they were civilizing them. So, the imaging of the world gives permission for various kinds of relationships to it, and people never question. You know, once they pledge allegiance to a given linguistic model of reality, then that absolves all necessity for further thought. This is what Goebels understood so perfectly- you repeat and you repeat and you repeat, and then when people ask themselves in the privacy of their own mind, the moral question, your answer is on the surface waiting to be heard. Goebels was the first person to create a system where, sitting in an office in Berlin, he could throw a switch and speak to the German people, and McLuhan talked a lot about this, the notion of the creation of the public...
Well, is there any cure for this? Or are we simply the prisoners, each of us in our own way, of people smarter than ourselves. Well, not really, I think. Because outside the domain of language is some kind of domain of authentic feeling. We have thousands of words for technological processes, widgets and what have you. Our vocabulary of feeling comprises about 10 words, you know. Love, hate, disgust, revulsion, obsession, like that. Yet, in the same way that we are capable of this very intensely modulated brain-state that translates itself into small mouth noises, we need to be aware of an internal horizon of self-perception that is extremely rich and complicated, and shifting all the time. Now, that's who we actually are. That is not the top-down values of the culture that we wear like clothing. That's who we are. This is what McLuhan said when he said we wear culture like an overcoat. It's something sold to us. You go out and buy it, you try it on. If Time Magazine doesn't fit you, maybe the Economist will. If neither fits, well, try the Journal of Foreign Affairs. You'll find an overcoat that fits, and then that will become part of your culture."
"Ideology is not our friend. It is not a matter of choosing from a smorgasbord of ideologies and rejecting the flawed, the self-contradictory, and the over-simple, in favor of the unflawed, the complex enough. Where is it writ in adamantine that semi-carnivorous monkeys can or should be capable of understanding reality? That seems to me one of the first illusions, and one of the more prideful illusions of human culture, that a final understanding is possible in the first place. Better, I think, to try and frame questions which can endure - questions which can endure, and leave off searching for answers, because answers are like operating systems: they’re being upgraded faster than you can keep up with it."
"Travel! Some of you are traveling. I know because you have accents from far away, so you probably know what I mean. But, the people who don’t go anywhere are -- are in danger of missing a major point about what is going on. So, I -- my traveling began very tentatively and I went to Israel and then I went to the Seychelles Islands and then I went to India and then I got in trouble. And then I couldn’t come back. So then I had to be who I said I was because I had essentially been making a tour in order to return to Berkeley and slay women with my tales of daring-do. But, I got caught out there, halfway around and had to stay, not the plan – three months – but years, years and years and years, and India, Indonesia, the Amazon, Tokyo and, you know, just a series of scenes. I used to say I never sleep in the same bed twice. I also came to realize then that what happened to me in ten days was more than happened to my friends back at home in a year because I would see, you know, three countries, five cities, eighteen ecosystems, five cuisines, so forth and so on in two weeks. And for them, you know, they were living out some kind of machine-like existence.
Nothing is as boundary dissolving as - except psychedelic compounds - as travel. Travel is really up there. I mean, you know, go to these places. There are many, many places and they are not to be taken at face value. They are parts of your own psyche. They are syntactical intersections of intentionality and cognition. The fact that you have to fly there on KLM is only incidental, you see, because what you come up against in these other places is cultural relativity. And the deep coming to awareness of cultural relativity is finally permission to look at who you are, not who they say you should be, you know. You see in this tribe, you’re an SOB if you fail to eat your uncle at a certain critical time in the situation and in this society, you’re an SOB if you don’t own a condo in Carmel. So, you know, how seriously are we to take all this?"
"The civilization that was created out of the collapse of the medieval world has now shown its contradictions to be unbearable. And though no one of us knows what the shape of the new civilization will be, somehow in the singing of the ayahuasca songs in the rainforests, in the tremendous hypermetallic transcendental off-planetary flash of psilocybin, in the teaching of the self-transforming machine elves that seem to dwell in the DMT dimension, we see that the ordinary linear expectations of history are breaking down, and that the truth of the imminence of the mystery is breaking through all the structures of denial of the male dominator paradigm that has been in place so long."
all quotes by Terence McKenna
videos produced by Peter Bergmann