The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna will be a memoir of our intertwined lives over the last 60 years.
Terence McKenna is a legend in the psychedelic community: He is remembered as a radical philosopher, futurist, raconteur, and cultural commentator. He was and is one of the most articulate spokesmen for the post-psychedelic zeitgeist. He is one of the prime originators of the 2012 mythos with all its attendent apocalyptarian anxiety. I am the younger brother of Terence McKenna. I want to write a memoir telling the real story of our intertwined life together over the last 60 years, and of the ideas, adventures, and explorations (both inner and outer) that we shared. I am Terence’s only brother; I am the only one who can tell this tale, from this unique perspective. Terence died in 2000, but his ideas live on the Net and in his books (e.g. True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, The Archaic Revival, The Invisible Landscape and others). The time has come to tell his story; in reality, it is our story.
Full Project Description
For those who lived through what is sometimes called the Psychedelic Revolution, Terence McKenna is a legend. Once characterized as ‘the intellectual’s Timothy Leary’ Terence attained iconic status as a radical philosopher, futurist, raconteur, and cultural commentator. His unorthodox ideas about the cultural, societal, and evolutionary impact of psychedelic drugs shocked many, and resonated with many others. Our fateful expedition to the Amazon in 1971 together with a small coterie of fellow seekers bent on uncovering the real mystery behind the psychedelic experience has become contemporary myth, chronicled in his book, True Hallucinations. Terence’s unorthodox ideas about time and the nature of history that were triggered by those adventures provided fertile ground for the emergence of the current apocalyptarian mythos surrounding 2012, the eagerly anticipated (and/or dreaded) end of the world as we know it. Sadly, Terence died in 2000 from terminal brain cancer; he will never know if his ideas about 2012 and the end of time are true. But Terence has achieved a kind of virtual immortality. Ghost-like, he haunts the Net; a talking head in Youtube space, the articulate prophet of an end-time that he did not live to see. His books are still read, (e.g. True Hallucinations, Food of the Gods, The Archaic Revival, The Evolutionary Mind, The Invisible Landscape and others), his voice and image is as close as the click of a mouse, his ideas, as fresh and timely as though they were uttered yesterday. He lives on as the beloved pater familias of a younger generation of psychedelic seekers; most of them were still in diapers when Terence was at the peak of his public career.
I am the younger brother of Terence McKenna. We grew up together in a small town in Western Colorado during the 50’s and 60’s; we traveled to the Amazon together in 1971, as brothers and friends, as fellow seekers. We called ourselves, self-mockingly, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss (even on the cusp of uncovering the mysteries of existence we managed to keep a sense of humor; it helped to be Irish). We went in search of we knew not what; only that it was a profound insight, unspeakable, beyond comprehension, and that it would change us, and everything, forever. We were right on both counts, though not in the ways we imagined.
Our trip to the Amazon in 1971 is chronicled in The Invisible Landscape, the book we co-authored and published in 1975 in an attempt to construct a rational explanation for the things that we experienced. Terence described the adventure again in True Hallucinations (HarperOne, 1994), more honestly, and with less technobabble, still with important elements elided, or deliberately omitted. That expedition, and what has been memorialized in the annals of psychedelia as the Experiment at La Chorrera, was the pivotal event in both of our lives. We were both young when it happened; Terence was a young man of 24; I was a mere lad of 20. We have been haunted ever since by the memory of those curious events that overtook us in that primeval rainforest.
Terence McKenna only had one brother. I am that brother. I shared the entire span of his lifetime, collaborated with him in the creation and evolution of many of ‘his’ ideas. Together we traveled to the ends of the earth, together we explored the outer limits of psychedelic experience seeking answers to the astonishing mysteries of time, mind, and the improbable reality of existence on earth. During the decades that followed La Chorrera, we went on with our lives, at times together, at times separately. Terence became the spokesman for the alien dimensions accessed through psychedelics, the philosopher of the unspeakable, a beloved and sometimes reviled bard of the outer limits of human experience. By choice and inclination, I remained in the background, pursuing a career in science, disciplines that ranged from ethnopharmacology to neuroscience.
Ever cognizant of the limitations of science, knowing that what had happened to us was unlikely to yield to rational investigation, nevertheless I continued to chip away around the edges of the mysteries that had so preoccupied us at La Chorrera. Terence departed this corporeal plane in April 2000 while I remained behind to witness the opening decade of the third millennium, a millennium that, by all early indications, will be far stranger, far more disturbing, and far more full of both hope and despair than any that humanity has endured so far.
As our troubled planet spirals toward the singularity point of December 21st, 2012, I feel compelled to tell our story. It is a story that only I can tell, and the time has come. Whether or not 12/21/2012 will mark the collapse of the continuum, global catastrophe, a new era of enlightened consciousness, or merely a small tremor in the psychic evolution of the human species, I do not know; nor, I venture to say, does anyone.
This story needs to be told, and I need your help to tell it. This is my reason for posting this project on Kickstarter.com. Through the unique funding mechanism of Kickstarter.com, I am seeking help from friends and fans of "Terry & Denny" and members of the psychedelic community to enable me to write this story. The unfortunate reality in these days is that time is money. Many of us spend so much time just trying to get by that we don’t have time for the creative projects that we would all rather be doing. I'm caught in this trap, as are a lot of people. But with your support, I’m seeking a temporary escape; I’m seeking to buy the time to tell the tale that I know I have to tell. I’m betting that it’s one that many people will want to hear, whether they lived through the psychedelic revolution of the sixties or are younger members of the new psychedelic renaissance, or are simply curious about one of the stranger tales of the latter 20th century. If you think this is a tale worth telling, if you would like to read it, then help me ‘clear the decks’ by pledging your support in exchange for one or more of the incentives listed on the project website.
As I sit here in April 2011, thinking about the time line for the project, my goal is to have the book completed and available to the world by the end of September 2012. How will these funds be used? My goal is to raise $80,000, which may sound like a lot, and it is. Approximately half of it (35 to 45 thousand) will be used to self-publish 10,000 hard cover copies of the book, and also to pay for editing, layout, publicity, and order fulfillment. I have identified a reputable self-publisher who will work closely with me through all stages of this process. The remainder of the funds (35 to 40 thousand) will be used to buy time, to partially defray expenses over the 9 to 12 months that I estimate it will take to research and write the book in a way that does justice to the story. If you want to contribute to the realization of this creative project, and receive something very special in return, then I respectfully request your support. I promise you a ripping good read!
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