Dennis and Terence McKenna: Parts of an Intellectual Dyad_

Dennis Jon McKenna was born in Paonia, Colorado, on December 17, 1950, four years after his brother, Terence. In 1970, they traveled to La Chorrera in the Colombian Amazon in search of the DMT-containing plant preparation known as oo-koo-he. Instead, they found Stropharia cubensis—a psilocybin-containing mushroom—and performed “the experiment at La Chorrera,” which involved, as Dennis later wrote, “building a hyper-dimensional vehicle out of the 4D transformation of my own DNA interlaced with the DNA of a mushroom.”

After La Chorrera, the brothers co-wrote two books, and Terence went on to write three more while Dennis got a doctorate from the University of British Columbia. Dennis’ research focused on ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, and he worked at Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Aveda, and other companies before obtaining a teaching job at University of Minnesota and becoming a founding board member of Heffter Research Institute.

Dennis’ first solo book project, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna, was published in 2012. In it, he described his and Terence’s post-La Chorrera existence:

While our lives were entangled as only the lives of brothers can be, after the events at La Chorrera we later found ourselves on separate paths. Terence became the spokesman for the alien dimensions accessed through psychedelics, a philosopher of the unspeakable, a beloved and sometimes reviled bard of the marvels and occasional terrors waiting in the recesses of human consciousness. By choice and inclination, I stayed in the background, pursuing a scientific career in disciplines that ranged from ethnopharmacology and ethnobotany to neuroscience.

The Artist and the Scientist: An Intellectual Dyad

The more I engage with the McKenna brothers’ work, the easier it is for me to imagine Dennis thinking and understanding—and, given the right context and audience, even expressing—anything Terence expressed, and vice versa. Their identities influenced what they, in each situation of their lives—including the “situations” of a conversation, book, or presentation—were encouraged to think and to feel. But it increasingly seems to me that they were, at least intellectually, less influenced by their ever-shifting identities than by some shared and constant source.

In this way, I like to imagine the McKenna brothers as originally comprising one mind, which decided that the most elegant, effective, uncompromising, satisfying, and compelling way to express itself—and to have a significant, desirable impact—on Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries would be to duplicate itself and take the form both of an artist, Terence, and a scientist, Dennis. It would exist in each brother as an entity that’s both scientific and artistic, but in order to be heard—and encouraged, financially and socially, to express itself—to its fullest extent, in the physical world, it would self-consciously, functionally accept the labels “Terence McKenna” and “Dennis McKenna.”

At La Chorrera, it was apparently Dennis who supplied all of the ideas and embodied most of the motivation required to perform “the experiment at La Chorrera,” but it was Terence who observed what happened and was motivated to place it within a psychologically dense, poignant, literary narrative. After La Chorrera, Dennis wrote the technical parts of Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide, while Terence wrote the parts where “the mushroom” asserts that it’s an extraterrestrial seeking a symbiotic relationship with humankind. These collaborations seem to me like successful implementations of a clever, earnest, innovative technique with which to introduce new ways of thinking—or new conceptions of “the mystery”—into the world. It’s a boundary-dissolving approach, tending toward interconnectedness rather than hierarchy or mutual exclusivity, and I like to imagine it continuing even now, after half the dyad (Terence) has left the physical world. Dennis, for example, writing in The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss about his brother’s account of La Chorrera in True Hallucinations, observed:

Though his account may seem unlikely and bizarre, I believe it is largely accurate, even if interpretations vary as to what it all meant. I can’t vouch for every detail, if only because I was lost in hyperspace for much of the time, or overwhelmed by psychosis, again depending on interpretation. Anyone with an interest in the “facts” of our story, if the word even applies, should regard Terence’s narrative as required reading.

Continued at VICE:(Link)

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Diplo & Skrillex Booed Off Robot Heart Decks At Burning Man_

As the dust settles on another year of Burning Man, the many stories that took place on the expansive playa of Black Rock City are beginning to trickle through to the real world. One that has just come our way involves Seth Troxler, Skrillex and Diplo at the infamous Robot Heart Bus.

Seth Troxler was scheduled for a set on the Robot Heart decks on Wednesday night, though as a source in attendance informs us, the Detroit DJ refused to play after his entourage was denied access to join him behind the decks. Looking to fill Troxler’s slot, organisers quickly replaced him with dance music’s hottest duo Jack U, aka Skrillex and Diplo, who just happened to be present at the time (the pair were at the festival to play at Camp Question Mark the following evening).

Crisis averted it would seem, with Skrillex reported to have played “a pretty cool set”. However things took a turn for the worse when Skrilly tagged in his pal Diplo, who made the unfortunate decision to drop DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s ‘Turn Down for What’. The result? Loud disapproval from the crowd which brought an abrupt end to the Diplo/Skrillex session. The Robot Heart vibe was then swiftly restored by a scorching set from Tale Of Us.

All’s well that ends well? It just goes to show that even when you’re at a professional level, you’re still always learning about the art of DJing.

(Link)

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‘Instructions for Life (Now With Pictures)’, An Illustrated Guide to Life’s Toughest Questions by EDW Lynch_

Instructions for Life (Now With Pictures) is an illustrated guide to life’s toughest questions by Laughing Squid Senior Contributing Writer EDW Lynch. The series looks at philosophical and sometimes unanswerable questions, and tries to answer them anyway. Topics covered so far include “How to Apologize to Whales for Everything,” “How to Explain a Brunch Line to a Child in a Refugee Camp,” and the most recent “How to Leave Your Worries Behind.”

(Link)

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HBO’s ‘Banksy Does New York’ Doc About the Street Artist’s NYC Show_

“Becoming less an art show than a city-wide, full-contact game of hide-and-seek.” We occasionally make exceptions to feature HBO movies and documentaries, and this is worth your attention. It’s a documentary titled Banksy Does New York, inspired by Banksy’s Better Out Than In (the real name of the show), profiling the controversial street artist’s residency in New York City last October. Every day for the entire month, Banksy would reveal a new piece of art hidden around the city, and it caused a flurry of interest and activity. The doc, which will be airing on HBO, is made up of footage from the masses and it looks fantastic. I was involved in the Banksy mayhem myself, scouring the city and chasing the art, and it was so much fun.
Editor’s Note: The actual trailer for the HBO documentary has not debuted yet, however the trailer below is a Banksy recap of the event featuring footage of all his work in New York to give you an idea of the coverage.

Here’s the first trailer for the unrelated project “Better Out Than In”, direct from Banksy’s YouTube:

This looks damn good. “From the moment Banksy took over the streets, New Yorkers became obsessed. The film captures this month of madness created by user-generated footage,” said HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins. The doc, titled Banksy Does New York, is directed by New York local Chris Moukarbel, who says he put this together from all the publicly posted content. “I crowd-sourced footage that New Yorkers posted online each day of the month. It was about a city holding a mirror back up to the artist.” Quotes via THR. The documentary will air on HBO on November 17th and will likely be available VOD soon after that.

(Link)

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You Can Train Your Brain to Prefer Healthy Food_

You’re not born loving pizza or hating broccoli. You’re conditioned to it over years of stuffing your face with rich, fatty foods. The good news is that you can undo all those years of conditioning and go back to loving what you’re meant to eat: healthy food.

A new brain scan study of adult men and women published in the Nutrition & Diabetes journal suggests that it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food that is formed over the years and also increase preference for healthy food at the same time. It was conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital.

So far, scientists have suspected that once your brain establishes healthy-food addiction circuits, it’s difficult or almost impossible to reserve them. In this study, scientists studied the reward system in 13 overweight and obese men and women, eight of whom were participants in a new weight loss programme designed by Tufts University researchers and five who were in a control group and were not enrolled in the programme.

(Link)

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Bear In Heaven – “Autumn”

High Definition 4K music video with rich low resolution graphics put together by Peter Burr for Bear In Heaven is a trippy experience. Video embedded below (but watch in the highest resolution possible for best effect):

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No One Tweets Like the Japanese, and That Was a Huge Problem for Twitter_

Twitter engineer Mazdak Hashemi says the Japanese tweet like no one else on earth.

When the New Year arrives or even as they watch certain moments in shows and movies broadcast on national television, tens of thousands of Japanese will tweet at practically the same instant. “Everyone tweets at the New Year, but the Japanese are more in-sync,” says Hashemi, who, as Twitter’s director of site reliability engineering, works to make sure its mini-messaging service stays in good working order. “They do it at exactly midnight.”

This provides a small window into the unique culture of the Japanese, known for exhibiting a certain type of conformity, but there was a time when it was also an enormous problem for Twitter. As the year 2012 arrived in Japan, the country’s synchronized tweets crashed the entire site, worldwide. It was 3pm in Britain when the site went belly-up.

‘Everyone tweets at the New Year, but the Japanese are more in-sync. They do it at exactly midnight.’

So, as the next New Year approached, Raffi Krikorian, one of Twitter’s lead engineers, urged Hashemi to find a better way of ensuring the site could handle the next wave of synchronized Japanese tweets. “I think he had some post-traumatic stress,” Hashemi says of Krikorian in the wake of the 2012 New Year. As a result, Hashemi and his team built a new system—known as a software “framework,” in engineering speak—that would let them mimic events like a Japanese New Year tweet storm and actually run these synthetic creations on the thousands of computers that run the live the site.

Internet engineers call it “stress testing,” and though this sort of thing is very common, Twitter’s situation was a bit different, and its methods could serve as a model for other online operations as they reach Twitter-like sizes. Because of the real-time nature of the site—where people expect to send and receive instantly, at all times—Hashemi and his team needed tools that could very carefully shape and reshape these massive tests, and because the service is used in this real-time way across the globe—it spans 240 million users who generate about about 5,700 tweets a second—there weren’t “off hours” when they could run live tests without having to worry about massive amounts of “real” traffic.

(Link)

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TV on the Radio Detail New Album Seeds, Share “Happy Idiot”_

TV on the Radio have shared more details about their forthcoming album Seeds. It’s out November 18 via Harvest Records, and was produced by guitarist David Sitek. That’s the album art, above. The band have also shared a new cut from the album called “Happy Idiot”. Check out the lyric video below. They’re also heading out on tour; the full list of dates is after the jump as well.

Seeds is the band’s first record since the passing of bassist/producer Gerard Smith in April 2011.

TV on the Radio:

10-17 Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl #
10-18 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library
10-19 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
10-22 Los Angeles, CA – Regent
10-24 Joshua Tree, CA – Pappy & Harriets
10-25 Las Vegas, NV – Life is Beautiful
11-12 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix
11-13 Montreal, Quebec – Corona
11-14 Boston, MA – Paradise
11-16 Washington DC – 9:30 Club
11-17 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
11-18 New York, NY – Apollo
11-21-22 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg

# with Massive Attack

Here’s the album’s trailer:

(Link)

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Punctuate_

Creative coding project by Jason Lin can convert text into 3D geometric drawings, turning writing into a visual grammar.

… I came up with this idea because my last project used an excel sheet and received insane amounts of numbers and data.
This time I wanted to use a text file and receive insane amounts of words and letters and most importantly, punctuation!

I had seen pictures of “sentence maps” before where a line was created and it got longer with every word and made a turn every time the sentence ended. Colors would change with every character or some other factor.

Basically I wanted to take this idea and make it HUGE. I wanted an entire 3D explore-able environment.

The video explains what I chose to do for every single type of punctuation mark.

(Link)

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North Korea Drama a “Slanderous Farce” Says… North Korea_

A forthcoming drama about North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has been criticised by the regime before it’s even been broadcast, with an NK spokesman saying that “hooligans and rogues under the guise of artistes” are disrespecting the country.

And to be fair, it does sound a little strange. Channel 4 drama Opposite Number is based around the troubles of a British nuclear scientist who’s been kidnapped by the North Koreans and forced to work on its weapons programme, featuring “…opposing CIA and MI6 agents secretly deployed on the ground in Pyongyang.”

According to a statement by North Korea’s Policy Department of the National Defence Commission, the filming of the series is: “…nothing but a conspiratorial charade painting a wrong picture of the DPRK’s reality as it is based on a sheer lie intended to give impression that the DPRK’s nuclear treasured sword for self-defence was manufactured by ‘illegally acquiring’ nuclear technology from Britain.”

(Link)

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