McKenna's Underground Camp

  • I join my father on a vacation trip. I'm not sure where our destination is but we start out in a small plane flying very low to the ground. The wide flat landscape around us has the dry, amber-colored look of Indian Summer. Ahead of us I see an amusement park, its roller coasters coiling in serpentine contours. We fly right through the middle of it, threading the eye of a loop de loop. I recognize the fantastically colored structures from dreams of my childhood. I used to visit this place after flying off a cliff in the distant mountains. Now we're driving through the same flat country, a river running parallel to our course. We arrive at the entrance to another amusement park. This one is much larger, on the order of Disneyland, but we aren't here to go on the rides. We walk into the arrival building that has the feeling of a mass transit terminal like an airport. The one-room building is shaped like an enormous coin standing on edge--narrow walls and very high ceiling curving over the cavernous space. An escalator runs diagonally from the entrance on the ground up to the exit near the ceiling. My father tries to persuade the woman ticket-seller to give us a discount since we're only passing through their property to get to a campground next to the river. She obliges us and hands over our tickets. As we rise on the escalator I recognize this building also from past dreams. Somehow we get our car (a Toyota Previa) on the inside of the park and now it splits into two separate vehicles. I drive one and my father the other as we make our way to the boundary of the amusement park and drive out into an open meadow. The land slopes down towards the river, hidden by the thicket of trees which line it on either side. We are the first to arrive. After setting up our camp we go out to see a show in the park; when we return for the night more people have arrived in our absence. The following morning, Terence McKenna arrives at the now-sizeable gathering--he is the coordinator of this event, and the grand voice of its Vision.

    Everyone collects together and the meeting begins. Someone asks why this location was chosen. Terence explains that we're less noticeable here to "questionable parties", plus it's more earth-friendly than a more typical seminar/conference. We represent a growing underground community of psychedelic-informed intelligentsia and digerati who are aware of the coming cultural transformation. We are the few who are aware that consciousness is less like the standard metaphor of a solid, and more like a liquid or a gas--a fluid substance that will fill and take on the shape of whatever container holds it--quite capable of existing in modes apart from, or in addition to, the human body. The interesting question may be, why did Mind ever choose to be limited by the physical body in the first place? Terence pauses, runs over to his camper shell and comes back with a piece of paper in his hand. He says he was writing some humorous lyrics about this topic and proceeds to sing a parody of the classic Schoolhouse Rock tune "Conjunction Junction". It begins with the line, "Subjective perception, what's your function?...." The conference goes on for days, but eventually I have to return to college for the Fall's classes. Others have really settled in and plan to stay here for several weeks since it's a Rainbow Gathering of sorts. I say goodbye to my dad, fiery Terence, and a female friend, then take one of the half-cars and drive away.

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