One Version of ‘One Version of Terence McKenna’s Life,’ by Tao Lin
The public story of Terence McKenna’s life—in my view, and by my estimates—is a ~450-page book, which could be titled One Version of Terence McKenna’s Life. It’s composed of Terence’s memoir, True Hallucinations (1993), his essays “I Understand Philip K. Dick” and “Among Ayahuasqueros,” certain sentences and anecdotes in dozens of his interviews and talks, and ~15% of The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss - My Life with Terence McKenna (2012) by Dennis McKenna, Terence’s younger brother by four years.
In a lecture called “Surfing Finnegan’s Wake,” Terence referred to a book of literary criticism that told James Joyce’s 656-page novel, Finnegans Wake (1939), in a one-page version, a ten-page version, and a 200-page version. The following biography (which to some degree presupposes knowledge of Terence McKenna’s Memes) is my eight-page, fractal-inflected, short-story-esque version of One Version of Terence McKenna’s Life.
The world which we perceive is a tiny fraction of the world which we canperceive, which is a tiny fraction of the perceivable world. – Terence McKenna, 1987. [“Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature”]
1. Paonia, Colorado (1946-1962)
Terence Kemp McKenna was born on November 16, 1946, in “a Colorado cattle and coal-mining town of 1,500 people named Paonia,” he said in an interview in 1993. He elaborated:
They wanted to name it Peony but didn’t know how to spell it. In your last year of high school, you got your girlfriend pregnant, married her, and went to work in the coalmines. An intellectual was someone who read TIME.
"Three years ago, I released a video for every single track from Alpocalypse. I’m not gonna say I’m the first person to do that. I’m sure someone did it before me. But what irked me was, when I came out with this eight videos in eight days thing, people were like ‘Oh, you’re pulling a Beyoncé.’ and I have to be like, ‘No, actually Beyoncé was pulling a ‘Weird Al.’"
—Weird Al Explains How He Conquered the Internet
The 21 Sexiest Things About Sex
Sex! What’s it all about? “Fanny farts” and creeping to the bathroom with cum dribbling down your leg, if this article in the Metro is anything to go by. Hannah Gale, who wrote the “The 21 Unsexiest Things About Sex,” says she’s “just being honest” and challenging “unrealistic” sex scenes in rom-coms. But honestly, if you’re that fucking basic that your view of sex is in any way influenced by rom-coms, then I’m sorry, you actually deserve shit sex. She doesn’t even preface her list with any real acknowledgment that sex can be great fun, or that women’s pleasure is important. It comes across like “women don’t really enjoy sex, it’s all just so dirty and embarrassing.” Way to go, Hannah.
The article’s been shared over 112,000 times on social media. No doubt by the sort of women who spend their weekends listening to Kylie and drinking white wine spritzers. The kind of people who bought Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus in the 90s and rabbit dildos in the noughties—but only “for a laugh,” because Samantha from Sex and the City had one. I refuse to believe any men who aren’t called Percy or Harold shared this story because given the chance most guys would shag a watermelon so long as they a) didn’t have to wear a condom and b) could cum inside it. Like they give a shit about awkwardness. Just kidding, fellas. I think?
There’s probably a serious point to be made about carnal politics and how, in our over-sanitized, digitized world, the squelchy business of sex can be such a source of embarrassment. I could keep certain political debate sites ticking over all week with my thoughts on the pressure for women to look a certain way and why, with the pornification of our culture and lack of useful education around modern sexuality. Or I could get into the fact that these days many women feel like sex is something to be performed rather than enjoyed with wanton inhibition—but I’d rather just talk about sex.
So here are my 21 sexiest things about sex. I did a callout for suggestions on Facebook and answers ranged from “Sacred sex where you commit an act of bonding” to “Rimming until your partner is begging you to fuck them.” Pigs. “Making love” is all well and good, but it always fucks you in the end. This list is about the delights of a fully-fledged passion. I’m not including the sexiest part of sex, which, of course, is our imagination and the mystery of what’s to come. You may not agree with my points and, despite my best efforts to fuck as many people as possible, I cannot reflect every single person’s experience of desire, so if you have better suggestions about what makes sex sexy, do let me know in the comments. Shit like that turns me on.
Photo author’s own
PARIS LEES’ 21 SEXIEST THINGS ABOUT SEX
1 – The smell. If you don’t like the smell of sex, I don’t know, maybe you’re not human? Sex smells… sexy?
2 – Socks. When your trusted fuck-buddy stuffs socks inside your mouth and ties your hands behind your back while ramming you like a champ. You people all do that, right?
3 – When a guy cums inside you and leaves himself inside and then you feel it getting hard again and he fucks you and cums again without ever taking it out. Not only is that sexy, you don’t have to worry about fanny farts that way, Hannah.
4 – Squeezing a guy while he’s inside you. It’s kind of like your pussy/butt saying, “I got you, homie.”
5 – Speaking of which, when he puts it in. And it feels like you’re sitting on an air freshener canister. Oh. My. Lord. What do you mean it’s “not all in yet”? Go, go gadget dick!
Weird Al Explains How He Conquered the Internet
When I said I was going to interview “Weird Al” Yankovic this past weekend, people asked me how he was going to find the time. The guy is everywhere right now. I was a little confused myself about how he could possibly squeeze in a casual conversation in the lounge at The Standard Hollywood, a hotel on the Sunset Strip.
It wasn’t until I actually saw him stroll into the lobby that I really believed the All-Time King of Song Parody, and reigning Emperor of the Internet could take a moment away from darting all over the digital landscape to talk to the likes of me. He had an entrourage of one in tow: Jay Levey, his manager, creative soulmate and director of UHF (a movie that was released 25 years ago yesterday). Jay is a small, taciturn, businesslike man who puts Al’s elastic, always-on persona in stark relief.
But when Yankovic sat down wearing low-key, normal people colors, it was clear that he wasn’t out of breath, and he was capable of devoting his full attention to an interview. I couldn’t help but ask how this was possible.
"I have to say, the synchronicity with the release of ["Mandatory Fun"] is pretty mind boggling even before we get into all that," he said. "I had been doing all sorts of promotional stuff, like, months and months before I even knew I had an album coming out, and everything started to happen right around the time of the release." He was referring to his recent appearances in other people’s work: "Epic Rap Battles of History,” where he rapped with animal agression while dressed as Isaac Newton, and Drunk History with Derek Waters, in which he played Hitler.
But he emphasized that some of his recent everywhere-ness was happenstance, his performance as Hitler being a prime example. “It tied into the whole totalitarian theme on the album art. And there are things that are coming out over the next few weeks, like ‘Hotwives of Orlando.’ I did a little bit on that show, and that came out the same day as the album. All this stuff is sort of happening, y’know, at the same time.”
At War with Reality in Eastern Ukraine
For many citizens living in parts of Eastern Ukraine occupied by Pro-Russia rebels, reality has become a tenuous amalgamation of rumors, propaganda, and dreams.
Private Bowe Bergdahl is the personification of America’s lack of purpose and clarity in its decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009 I was in Afghanistan and was involved in the search for Bergdahl from that first June morning he went missing.
Finding Bergdahl: Inside the Search for the Last Prisoner of America’s Longest War
Private Bowe Bergdahl is the personification of America’s lack of purpose and clarity in its decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The narrative thus far is this: An introverted but adventurous 23-year-old neophyte soldier becomes disenchanted with the war he has eagerly signed up to fight. Then, within weeks, he wanders off base and ends up kidnapped by the Taliban. He becomes our singular POW, a soldier held against his will for five years—at some points in a cage. According to the kangaroo court of public opinion, though, he is a deserter.
The overall tone of the saga is overwhelmingly negative. Bergdahl is victimizer, responsible for the deaths of solders who never even set foot in Pakistan, the country in which the government and military knew he was being held. Yet this once idealistic, sensitive young man has emerged from five years in captivity in a foreign land to a cycle of social brutalization that has the potential to be even more crushing to his psyche. He has faced accusations that he is a traitor, deserter, Taliban-lover, turncoat, and perhaps even one ofthem.
The other side of this bifurcated stream of white-hot hate is caused by the anger of the American public suddenly discovering that five senior members of the inner circle of Taliban leader Mullah Omar were kidnapped and held for more than 13 years without charges in Guantánamo Bay and are now on their own recognizance in a luxury villa in Qatar. As we will learn, however, all five had surrendered or were working with the Americans before they were kidnapped. The concern is that they are “terrorists” and will be “recidivists.” The Taliban have never been labeled as a terrorist group, but there is clear evidence of men released from Gitmo returning to their violent ways.
Coiled inside, around, and throughout this story is the truth and, even more curiously, my involvement with some elements of that truth in the early days of Bergdahl’s disappearance. A truth obfuscated by a topic that hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention or analysis as its byproducts: the actual criminal act committed by Bergdahl’s kidnappers.
In 2009 I was in Afghanistan and was involved in the search for Bergdahl from that first June morning he went missing. Tasked by a secretive military group to provide minute-by-minute information on his location using my network of local contacts, I quickly pinpointed Bergdahl’s whereabouts. We then predicted which routes Bergdahl would be taken along, knowing full well he would be sold to the Haqqanis in Miranshah, Pakistan, and whisked across the Pakistani border. Thankfully, the military’s Task Force was able to put a spy plane on target and monitor two phone calls made by Bergdahl’s kidnappers.
David Shapiro Isn’t Much Use to Anyone
David Shapiro and his Tumblr Pitchfork Reviews Reviews once felt “big on the internet.” Roughly five years ago, Shapiro—then fresh out of college with a shitty job and some self-esteem issues—started writing meta-reviews of the music reviews published on Pitchfork each morning. As he commuted to a conservative clerical gig, he’d frantically type out ranting but sharp essays on his Blackberry memo pad (sans-capitalizations and with few paragraph breaks), deconstructing the music critics’ arguments and logic, and even commending certain reviews a “Best New Review” tag—a play on Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” symbol of indie gold status. From his office bathroom, he’d often write colloquial personal essays in the afternoon about his relationship with music, which are the only remaining fossils of his site today.
The website got very popular, earning Shapiro over 100,000 followers, writing gigs at The Wall Street Journal, Interview Magazine, and The New Yorker, as well as a profile of his Tumblr in The New York Times. Shortly after he stopped posting on Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, he wrote a screenplay and a novel, both which sold and made it out of production limbo. Despite the success, Shapiro has sworn off writing (save the occasional New Yorker piece), and has since finished most of law school and now works at a white-collar firm in Manhattan.
His new book, You’re Not Much Use To Anyone, which comes out later this month, is a semi-autobiographical account of Shapiro’s life right out of college. It details the creation of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews and what was going on in his life at a time when he was especially insecure and looking for a form of authority and influence.
The book’s main character, David, is both anxious and hyper-analytical—fanatical with trifling metrics of success like how many Internet followers he has, or ways his life doesn’t compare to the lives of Pitchfork writers he both idealizes and envies. So even though his Tumblr is just a Tumblr, he feels validated and important when people he was once infatuated with start paying attention to his thoughts and ideas.
On a surface level, You’re Not Much Use To Anyone, sounds nominal: a physical book about a Tumblr about a music reviews website. But the story is a punchy and sometimes poignant read for any young person trying to figure out how he can become significant or simply noticeable to the people he/she admires. Over the course of a boozy, four-hour interview, we talked about his book being “almost desperate” to get you to finish it, feeling guilty about writing a semi-factual story about friends who didn’t sign up for being characters, and on his relationship with Pitchfork today.
VICE: The inspiration for your Tumblr and writing came from an unlikely source, but can you tell me about the actual inspiration for this book?
David Shapiro: I was seeing this girl who was working on a novel and she wouldn’t tell me anything about it. I felt a little resentful that she wouldn’t share it. Later, she broke up with me. And I thought, what better way to get back at her then to write a book myself? It was months after I stopped posting on Pitchfork Reviews Reviews. I refilled my prescription for anti-anxiety medication prescription and wrote a draft in a week.
This must have been insane to pitch to a publisher. It’s a physical book about a meta-Tumblr. How would you describe it to someone with zero context?
[Laughs] I still don’t even know how to describe it. I don’t know how to talk about it. I don’t have an elevator pitch. It’s a book about a blog about a popular music reviews website—after a certain point of shopping it around to publishers, I realized it was better to stay quiet during meetings and let my agent talk.
To me, I mean, if you read the book, in many ways, Pitchfork is not the focus.
Definitely. You could say Pitchfork is incidental. In another time, it would have been… I don’t know, like a car a magazine? It could have been written about any fountain of authority.
That’s what I found really interesting. In a lot of ways, your book details the rise of social media as a platform for anyone to assert their opinion and influence.
Yeah, or throw rocks at the throne.
Read the whole interview