Joe Rogan Talks Horror Films & Books, Monkeys, and the Psychedelic Experience
DC: You also read a lot of stuff that is non-fiction, stuff like Terrence McKenna, and that seems to have affected you pretty profoundly. I mean, a lot of the expanding consciousness stuff.
JR: Well, obviously I’m a huge fan of McKenna’s work. His books are very entertaining. His lectures I think are more entertaining. He was almost a better talker than he was a writer. His writing was very information-filled, but it was a bit flat as far as entertainment value. You had to really be into the subject matter, but I’m obviously fascinated by anything that has to do with the psychedelic experience and he was one of my favorite “psychonauts,” I guess you could call him, because he was such an intelligent guy and so brave about his quest to make people aware of the power of the psychedelic experience knowing very well that a lot of people were going to consider him to be a silly person for taking this on. It’s such a controversial topic. Whenever you get into the topic of psychedelic drugs, immediately you’re thought of as a nut.
DC: Or a hippie…
JR: Or a hippie or just a silly person… a person who’s not to be taken seriously. And I think that’s really a shame. I mean, it’s really a by-product of a bunch of different things. The actual accounts of real people who’ve done psychedelics… a lot of them are as silly as shit. There’re a lot of silly, knuckle-headed people that are into psychedelics, but there are also a lot of really brilliant people who have used psychedelics and changed their lives. But, for the most part, when we think about… even today, people who are really well known intellectuals or the flavor of the month like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens… you never hear of them expanding on the psychedelic experience. It’s one of those things that puts you in this weird sort of hole. It’s really odd to me that those guys don’t talk about psychedelics. I don’t know what kind of experience they have with them. I know Hitchens likes to drink, but… If your whole thread is about religion… If that’s what you’re constantly talking about and putting it in perspective for people who are zealots and trying to enlighten them, how do you not know or how do you not bring up psychedelics? That really is the elephant in the room.
I think the root of almost all real, true religious experiences is probably psychedelic drugs. I mean, that IS the connection to the Afterlife. It IS the connection to the higher power. It is the road map to the center of the mandala. It really is. What I’m saying is that it really is what all these people are looking for. All these people who are looking for this being touched by a higher power or this feeling of being in the presence of something divine or something indescribably wise… like really being in the presence of God. That really is what a true psychedelic experience gives you. It’s very humbling. You come out of it very loving. You come out of it feeling like you have a responsibility to do something about this experience and make it have a positive effect on your life. That is what all these people are looking for… all these people who are talking in tongues and throwing their arms up in the air and crying out for someone to come down and give them the wisdom. That’s what psychedelic drugs are there for, man. They’re there for you, but, for whatever reason, it gets left out of the debate because it’s thought of as a frivolous topic. If you’re the type of person who is into psychedelic drugs, you’re like… me. I’m an easy person to be dismissed.
DC: Well, look at someone like Ram Dass… It’s like, “You’re ok. Yeah, you’re a Harvard academic, but now that you’re openly talking about these drugs, you’ve gone way off the rails… and here’s an easy answer for sidelining you and, by extension of that, the debate.”
JR: Sure… and Timothy Leary as well.
DC: I wonder if by trivializing it, it diminishes its appeal… I mean, here’s a solution to everything people are looking for… and it’s easy… but there’s no cash in it. There’s no church-based economy inherent in it. Instead, we’ll trivialize it and say, “no…no… no… listen to the guy on the pulpit who talks about the Ten Commandments and Leviticus and blah blah blah…” because there we can tap into a revenue source and exert some control.
JR: There’s a little bit of that, but I think there’s also what you said – it’s too easy. I think, for a lot of people, the idea that you can just take a gigantic dose of mushrooms and have this insane, religious, powerful, all knowing experience… it just seems like a cop-out to people. You should be meditating on a mountain for thirty years to have that. You should earn that, you know what I mean?
DC: Staring at your navel…
JR: Yeah! The fact that you can get there with the same method that some goofy high school kid who just watched SOUTH PARK and giggle off of a few caps and stems… that’s the method you’re going to use to change your whole life? Whoa, you sound like a nut!
DC: You’ve kept to the organics, true? You’ve never done LSD or…
JR: I try to avoid anything that I know has completely wrecked people’s minds. A lot of that has been because I’ve been very fortunate to meet people who have fucked their brains up. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people with cocaine problems early on when I was really young, so… I was always terrified of coke. I had seen what it had done to people. I’d met people who’d had heroin problems and seen what that had done to them. So, I’d had some real clear evidence stuck in my face at a very young age that there is a lot of stuff that’s just not good for you. But, you don’t really hear that about marijuana. You don’t really hear that about hash. You don’t really hear that about mushrooms… Although, there is a depiction in the book TRUE HALLUCINATIONS where McKenna and his brother, Dennis were somewhere in South America and they took mushrooms and Dennis had some sort of a schizophrenic episode for a couple of weeks where he’d really lost his marbles. But, who knows what they were taking. They might have taken so much stuff…
DC: And you never know if there were already cracks in Dennis’ foundation before they dosed, you know? The trip might have just sort of brought those flaws to the surface.
JR: Yeah, absolutely. You just never know what kind of psychological state he was in when he took that stuff and that has a big effect on it.
DC: A lot of people know you as an actor, a standup, a martial artist, and a sports commentator, but you’re also a big horror fan and monster fan. Was that interest sparked early on? As a kid, were you gobbling that stuff up?
JR: Yeah, man… When I was really, really young, for as far back as I can remember, I loved monster movies. My mom used to be a horror movie fan and she used to watch movies with me when I was really young – like 5 and 6 – like vampire movies and shit like that. It was something I always really enjoyed. And still to this day, I always get really excited when a monster movie comes out. There’re just not enough of them, man… and the ones that are out all suck.