The Troubling Difference Between McKenna's 1975 and 1994 Invisible Landscape [Trenchant Edges]
ooooo, clickbaity. "scare quotes". Oh no! Relax, it's maybe fine. Probably.
Welcome back to the Trenchant Edges, the Email Newsletter where we take deep dives into fringe culture and maybe whatever else I’m thinking.
Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 58 seconds. Contains 396 words
We’re back into Terence McKenna today. I’m starting to think the friend who suggested there was something interesting about the differences between the 1994 and 1975 editions of The Invisible Landscape was right.
I, uh, just kinda wish he’d mentioned the reason was how few changes there really were.
But wait, why is that interesting?
Because he didn't change either his arguments or his citations in the 19 year gap between publications. The most recent citation I’ve seen is 1972. Now, do you think we learned anything about neuroscience, energy physics, and pharmacology in that time?
I’ll answer that with a simple fact: The fMRI machine, which completely changed the boundaries of what neuroscientists could study, was invented in 1990.
TLDR: Oh yeah. We learned a LOT.
Now, as a practical matter as an author, I can see the logic of not wanting to have to catch up on so much science produced, rework one’s own arguments, and maybe the whole arc of the book.
It’d be a real project to read up on 20 years of any discipline, let alone the 1-2 dozen McKenna touches on in The Invisible Landscape.
I don’t think it’d be unreasonable, though, to point out that refusing to do that or to admit you should have is kinda the mark of the grifter and fraud, not the maverick public intellectual.
My approach, I think, would be to try to follow it up with a book updating the science and taking a critical look at the theory in the book.
Hell, maybe Terence tried to. Don’t really know offhand, will have to ask the Terence McKenna Archives.
I’m asking a lot of people a lot of things these days, lol. McKenna’s scientific pastiche is so broad that I feel like I can’t really analyze much of it without speaking to a few experts so I’m working on that.
Anyway, I need to make a run to the store. Tomorrow we’ll do a deeper dive into the theory of part 2: Mind, Molecules, and Magic and Friday we’ll lay down an account of The Experiment at La Chorrera because I’m very unsatisfied with the summaries I did last year.
Earlier this week I bought a blender so I’ll be trying some meal replacement shakes to try and lose some weight. We’ll see how it goes.
This feels super short, but it’s about the length most of my posts last year were. Weird, right?
Anyway, be seeing you.
Great point about these differences, I was waiting for it soo long.
About Terence, I've recently read True Hallucinations and most valuable as a way to learn how these people were seeing the world. I mean it's strange and colourful and made me interested in other books and ways of thinking, but some of it was obviously wishful thinking. And their experiments were really silly.
And there is of course this scene when after return to US he is talking to scientist at college, and he tells him that his ideas "aren't even wrong".
And Terence writes something like "and that was end of my relationship with mainstream science". And I'm like "dude, why are you giving up so easily?". So my expectations weren't so high.
PS would love to read more about this experiment, because even after reading TH I'm still not sure.