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McKENNA: It's one thread of the evidence, and it isn't really well supported by the evidence. Jacques Vallee, who is one of the foremost commentators on the phenomenon, has been at great pains to point out that with the flying saucer phenomenon we're dealing with thousands and thousands of incidents per year, throughout the world. Even at our own primitive level of scientific sophistication we can learn a great deal about a planet by sending a single probe to that planet. What kind of scientific program of investigation requires thousands and thousands of appearances? And if we make the assumption that not all appearances are observed, but that in fact only a small number are observed, then the number of appearances that must actually be going on soars toward an astronomical number. It suggests we're dealing with an interpenetration by an alien dimension on an almost industrial scale.
MISHLOVE: Of course a single probe could cause thousands of appearances.
McKENNA: If it were of a sophisticated enough nature, that's right. The approach that I have taken, that has characterized my work with this phenomenon, was first of all to say we have not carried out a sufficiently in-depth survey of the life already on this planet to be able to say that at some time in the past life did not arrive here and thrive here that is not part of the general heritage of life on this planet, but that has somehow come in from the outside. My candidate for that kind of an intrusive extraterrestrial would probably be a mushroom of some sort, or a spore-bearing life form, because spores are very impervious to low temperatures and high radiation -- the kind of environment met with in outer space.
MISHLOVE: In other words, a mushroom spore could conceivably even waft itself up through the atmosphere of our planet and enter into empty space.
McKENNA: Oh, there's no question but what this is happening -- that through what's called Brownian motion, which is sort of random percolation, spores do reach the outer edge of our atmosphere, and there, in the presence of cosmic rays and meteors and rare, highly energetic events, occasionally a very small percentage of these biological objects are wafted into space. We even possess meteorites that are believed to be pieces of the Martian surface, thrown out by impacts on the Martian surface of asteroidal material. In fact I think part of the grappling with the UFO mystery is going to lead to the conclusion that space is not an impermeable and insurmountable barrier to biology -- that in fact planets are islands, and life does occasionally wash in from distant places, and if conditions are correct, can take hold. However, let me say in the UFO phenomenon we are dealing, or we presuppose that we are dealing, not simply with the phenomenon of extraterrestrial biology, but with the phenomenon of extraterrestrial intelligence, and this is a hackle-raising notion.
MISHLOVE: We're dealing with more than mushroom spores.
McKENNA: We're dealing with more than mushroom spores, at least as ordinarily conceived. I think the thing that has been overlooked in almost all discussions of extraterrestrial contact is how strange the extraterrestrial is likely to be. It isn't going to be a friendly, elfin little feller with a beating heart of gold. It isn't even going to be some of the more extravagantly grotesque creations out of Hollywood. Conditions and time spans in the universe are long enough and varied enough that I would bet that the real task with extraterrestrial intelligence will be to recognize it, you see. We have no conception of how species-bound our images of life and biology are. This is a place where we have never been asked to confront to what degree the monkey within us has channeled our expectations and perceptions.
MISHLOVE: Well, it is the case that on this planet virtually all known life forms are based on the same DNA molecule.
McKENNA: Well, except that have all life forms been examined, to see to what degree they deviate, percentage-wise, from, let's say, a standard DNA molecule? The answer is no. The sequencing of DNA is a very expensive process, and is only carried out on laboratory organisms with an extensive history of involvement in medical research, like E. coli or the ordinary laboratory rat. No, there's a great deal we don't know about life on earth. We don't know when the fungi entered into the evolutionary chain. We don't know what kind of intelligence is really possessed by the cephalopods, the shell-less molluscs that include the octopi. The intelligence of dolphins has been studied by Lilly and others; the intelligence of the large primates other than man. One way of looking at nature is that it is entirely linguistic intent -- that DNA is in fact a way of uttering protein syntactical structures into matter.
MISHLOVE: In other words, that all of nature is like a poem.
McKENNA: Yes, nature is a communicating system of some sort, and the problem that we have is to transcend cultural languages, historically created languages with very limited applications, and instead fall into phase with the communication systems that nature has placed all around us. One possible view of the flying saucer is that it is a kind of projection from the consciousness of the planet -- that it is Gaia, that it is in fact a kind of alchemical object, haunting human historical time with a symbol of totality, the kind of totality that our religions and our mystical yearnings are so at pains to concretize for us. But unless we as egocentric beings clarify our relationship to the unconscious, then I think the flying saucer is going to remain quintessentially mysterious. This was Jung's view.
MISHLOVE: One of the things that Jung pointed out in his book is that we must pay attention to the research that Dr. J.B. Rhine was doing at that time at Duke University in ESP and psychokinesis, and that even if UFOs had a physical reality, could be photographed or could be weighed and measured, that they still might in some manner be projections of the human mind.
McKENNA: Oh yes, this is an important point to make, which the flying saucer people are forever misunderstanding, and that is that saying the flying saucer is a psychic object does not mean it is not a physical object. Jung in Mysterium Coniunctionis is at great pains to say that the realm of the psychic and the realm of the physical meet in a strange kind of never-never land that we have yet to create the intellectual tools to explore. This is where the mystery of synchronicity is going to come to rest, the mystery of all kinds of paranormal activity on the part of human beings, and the mystery of the flying saucer. It's interesting, you see, that if you take the broad world of the so-called mysteries -- parapsychological, shamanic, extraterrestrial, and so forth -- and hypothesize another spatial dimension, one more spatial dimension, then suddenly all these mysteries become trivial. They are easily done. Locked boxes are opened; future events are discerned; lost objects are found. This sort of thing becomes quite the ordinary run of things if we hypothesize dimensions hidden from ordinary experience.
I plan on trying Salvia Divinorum