True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author’s Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil’s Paradise
by Terence McKenna. 237 pp.
In March 1971, Terence McKenna, his brother, Dennis, and a small Gypsy-like band "bound by friendship, extravagant imagination, naivete, and a dedication to travel and exotic experience" set off on an expedition to the Amazon basin in search of the mythical shamanistic hallucinogen of the Witoto, oo-koo-he. What ensued was perhaps the most bizarre experience in ethnobiologist McKenna's already bizarre life and the germination of McKenna's theory that psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in the Stropharia cubensis mushroom, is the missing link in the development of human consciousness and language. True Hallucinations is the mesmerizing, fast-paced, and surreal account of this intellectual odyssey and the planet-shattering secret it revealed, culminating in the Experiment at La Chorrera, a small settlement along the Rio Putumayo in Colombian Amazonas where "the loquacious mushrooms...spun a myth and issued a prophecy, in quite specific detail, of a planet-saving global shift of consciousness". It is here that Terence's brother, Dennis, becomes possessed by the idea that the mushroom is the doorway to the planet Earth's "bonded complex of superconductive harmine-psilocybin-DNA". After encountering a cast of remarkable characters - including a mushroom, a flying saucer, pirate Mantids from outerspace, an appearance by James and Nora Joyce, and translinguistic matter - McKenna's band discovers "that the universe is stranger than we can suppose" and reverently "genuflect(s) before the weirdness of it all".