Guest: Dr. Dennis McKenna
In this episode Jan and Dennis discuss oo-koo-he, ayahuasca, habit and novelty theory, Terence McKenna, plant communication and the future of psychedelic research. For the last thirty years, Dennis McKenna has pursued the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens.
Dennis has authored numerous scientific articles and books, including co-authoring the book The Invisible Landscape with his brother Terence McKenna. McKenna spent a number of years as a senior lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing, part of the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is now a senior research scientist for the Natural Health Products Research Group at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in the Vancouver area. McKenna received his Master's degree in botany at the University of Hawaii in 1979. He received his Doctorate in Botanical Sciences in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where he wrote a dissertation entitled Monoamine oxidase inhibitors in Amazonian hallucinogenic plants: ethnobotanical, phytochemical, and pharmacological investigations. His research has included the pharmacology, botany, and chemistry of Ayahuasca and oo-koo-hé, the subjects of his master's thesis. He has also conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon. He is the Co-founder and Director of Ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute. For a more complete biography and list of publications please visit: www.heffter.org
The second interview
Dennis reflects on the events that took place in 1971 at La Chorerra as described in True Hallucinations: An account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise. He also tells us about some of his other early field work in the Amazon basin. Dennis shares some personal memories about experimenting with the I Ching, the development of Time Wave Zero and co-authoring The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching along with some more recent thoughts and discoveries on the topic. This interview has a great ending with Dennis sharing his unique perspective of being Terence McKenna's brother:
Terence is so persuasive and he is such a good talker and he says ... he could say complete nonsense in the most lovely way that most people never questioned it at all. He didn't actually like me to come to his seminars or his lectures because I was the only one who ever argued with him. Everyone else was sort of sitting there taking it all in – 'Oh wow man isn't this cool,' you know – and I would actually stand up and say, 'Well now wait a minute, what you said makes no sense. It's a total crock of shit and not only that but it contradicts what you said twenty minutes ago that also didn't make any sense.'
And he would of course dismiss that and say, 'Well, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds...' The guy was a fucking genius... I think that he did a service with the way he was able to get people to question their assumptions or to entertain ideas that never in a million years would they entertain. He presented them in such a way that they seemed to make sense at the time, and it's only a few days later when you think about it that it's like, 'What was this guy saying?'” Dennis laughed.
“I'm critical but I admire him. He was great. There will never be another like him.