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Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Anglais) Relié – septembre 2002


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--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.

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Chapter 1

THE KING OF THE BWITI

"The Bwiti believe that before the ceremony, the neophyte is nothing," Daniel Lieberman told me on my first morning in Gabon, as we took a cab from the Libreville airport. "It is only through the initiation that you become something."

"What do you become?" I asked.

"You become a baanzi. One who knows the other world, because you have seen it with your own eyes."

"What do the Bwiti think of iboga?" I asked.

Lieberman barely hesitated. "For them, iboga is a super-conscious spiritual entity that guides mankind," he said.

"Okay."

Lieberman, an ethnobotanist from South Africa, wanted to make a business out of taking Westerners through the extreme Bwiti initiation. I had found him on the Internet. On his Website he posted photos from Gabon that seemed unreal--tribal dancers in grass skirts, smiling shamans, and images of iboga itself, a modest, even unassuming-looking plant. The Bwiti's botanical sacrament, Tabernanthe iboga, is a bush that grows small, edible orange fruit that are tasteless and sticky. Under optimum conditions, iboga can grow into a tree that rises forty feet high. The hallucinatory compound is concentrated in the plant's rootbark, which is scraped off, dried, and shredded into gray powder. For an outsider coming from the United States, the Bwiti initiation costs over $7,000 with plane ticket, the cost of the ritual, and the botanist's fee. "I have spent time in the rain forests of Africa east and west, Madagascar, and the Amazon working with shamans, brujos, witch doctors, healers," Lieberman e-mailed me before the trip. "Iboga I feel to be the one plant that needs to be introduced to the world, and urgently."

In person, the botanist was thin and pallid, wearing Teva sandals and safari clothes. He seemed younger, less professional, more ill at ease than I had expected. He was an entomologist as well as a botanist--later he would show me hundreds of photographs he had taken of insects in the African rain forest. He seemed the type of person who would be happiest alone, trekking through a forest in search of rare beetles and butterflies. He told me his pale complexion and twitches appeared during a near-fatal bout of cerebral malaria. "I caught it during a Bwiti ceremony," he said. "It took me months to recover."

I expected my guide to be robust and adventurous. Instead, at thirty, he turned out to be two years younger than me, and shakier. He also told me that the last time he took iboga, he had been shown the date of his own death, and it wasn't too far away. From the somber way he said this, I knew he believed it was true. I didn't press him for details--later I wished that I had.

Libreville was hot, stagnant, without vitality. The city seemed pressed under glass. Blinding sunlight reflected off the black mirrors of corporate towers, the headquarters of oil companies. Because of its oil deposits, Gabon, a small West African country on the equator, is richer, more secure, than other countries in the region. Iboga is another natural resource, but it will never be exploited for export by the Gabonese. Half the population of Gabon belongs to one Bwiti sect or another. Even the president-for-life, Omar Bongo, whose neutral and uninterested visage gazed down at us from posters around town, was known to be an initiate. The Bwiti seem to tolerate foreign interest in their sacred medicine, but they do not encourage it in any way.

"Why would the Bwiti allow me to join their sect?" I now asked.

"Bwiti is like Buddhism," he said. "Anyone can join if they are willing to be initiated. The word Bwiti simply means the experience of the iboga plant, which is the essence of love."

While Lieberman equated Bwiti with Buddhism, to most observers it remains an enigmatic cult. Some sects of Bwiti, such as the Fang, incorporate elements of Christianity, even wearing ostentatious costumes that resemble Mardi Gras versions of the vestments of Catholic bishops and nuns. Other groups, such as the one we were visiting, hold on to tribal beliefs. James Fernandez, an anthropologist who studied the sect at length, ended his book Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa inconclusively: "In the end, any attempt to demonstrate the coherence of the Bwiti cosmos founders upon the paradoxes with which it plays." For Fernandez, the Bwiti religion worked by "indirection and suggestion and other kinds of puzzlements," leaving "many loose ends and inconsistencies." In the text, a typically distanced work of anthropology, there was no indication that Fernandez had tried iboga himself.

I knew there was one other customer for this journey. A woman. I had fantasized, in advance, about hooking up with some brave and beautiful Australian heiress or young Peace Corps volunteer. Instead, to my dismay, I was introduced at the hotel to Elaine, a short, talkative, middle-aged Jewish psychoanalyst with a heavy New York accent.

"I just came from Bhutan where I got a terrible bladder infection," the analyst immediately announced. "You're a New Yorker also? What a surprise! I'm a psychoanalyst in the West Village. Maybe you know my friend who works for the New York Times? Or my sister, the novelist?"

I nodded at the familiar names, trying to recover from the shock of unwanted familiarity. I had yearned for some severe and pristine pursuit of the sacred, the exotic "Other" encountered in novels of Joseph Conrad or Paul Bowles. Instead, I would be sharing my tribal adventure with a woman I might have tried to avoid at a Manhattan cocktail party. I admired Elaine's courage and her reasons for taking this trip--she said that some of her patients abused drugs, especially coke, and she wanted to know if she should recommend ibogaine to them. But her presence on my journey seemed like some carefully orchestrated karmic punishment.

We went to meet our shaman, Tsanga Jean Moutamba, who called himself "The King of the Bwiti." What we would later discover about The King's belligerence and greed and tyrannical theatricality was not evident during this first encounter. At his Libreville house, The King seemed gruff but basically friendly as we set the arrangements for the trip. His purple robe, ample stomach, bushy gray beard, and necklace of lion's teeth gave him the larger-than-life presence of a 1960s avant-garde jazz musician. With shy smiles, members of his huge family came to shake hands--we were told by Lieberman that he had eight wives and fourteen children, plus an untold number of Bwiti initiates who called him "Papa." The tribe packed our bags into a jeep, and The King himself drove us down Gabon's single highway, four hours into the dense jungle, while green foliage unfolded monotonously under a lead gray sky. He played a tape of the twangy, unsettling Bwiti music over and over again on his tape recorder as we drove. The music did not sound tribal; to me it had a sci-fi quality. When we stopped at one of the frequent military checkpoints, the guards would take one look at his lion's tooth necklace and wave us past.

During my time in Gabon, I kept trying to find out the meaning of Moutamba's status as "Le Roi du Gabon Bwiti," as the hand-painted sign outside his tribal village proudly proclaimed. I received different answers, sometimes from the same person. Alain Dukaga, an English-speaking Gabonese with a limp, who acted as our translator, first told me: "Moutamba is like Jesus to us. Most of the people now are like lacking roots. They got tied to the Christian ways and forgot their culture. Moutamba is helping to bring back our culture. We hope soon they will start teaching Bwiti again in the schools." A few days later, when relations soured between us and our shaman, Alain reversed himself. "Moutamba?" he scoffed. "He's not the king of anything. He just call himself that."

It was my first time in Africa, the one continent I had never wanted to visit. When I thought of Africa I thought of vast disasters, cruelty on a biblical scale: famines, tribal wars, inescapable poverty, despotic dictatorships, epidemics of AIDS and ebola. It was a continent where friends of mine went to prove themselves--writing journalism, photographing exotic atrocities, acting out Hemingway-esque safari fantasies, joining the Peace Corps, contracting bizarre diseases. The ebola virus first appeared in the forests of Gabon. Sometimes I mused on the unsettling near-homophony of ebola and iboga.

My trip seemed to be tempting fate. Every detail of it gave me as much resistance as I could handle. I had an assignment to write about the iboga initiation for Vibe Magazine, but I only received the money I needed a few days before the trip. After paying off Lieberman and everyone else, my bank account was reduced to a few hundred dollars. The visa I needed to enter the country--a full-page purple passport stamp of a mother and baby--was held up, for no obvious reason, at the Gabonese consulate in Washington. It finally arrived at my apartment via FedEx a few hours before my departure, interrupting my fit of hysterics. When I reached Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, I learned that Air France had canceled their once-a-week flight to Libreville, which was supposed to leave that night. Air France gave me 1,500 francs in consolation and stashed me in an airport hotel for two nights, before the next departure to Libreville, on Air Gabon. At the hotel, I ate with a few elegantly dressed Gabonese people who were also stranded. They mocked the wine and the service in rapid-fire French. I told one of the men I was planning to visit the Bwiti. He gave me a strange look. "Les Bwiti, ils sont dangereux," he said solemnly, quickly turning away. I had no way of getting in touch with Lieberman to explain the delay; I could only hope he would still be waiting for me when I arrived.

In retrospect, and even at the time, it almost seemed as if the difficulties were a kind of test, an ordeal prepared for me before I could even reach the ordeal of the initiation. Although I was anxious, it did not occur to me to turn back.

I was driven to try iboga by a yearning that went far deeper than the desire to get a good story. I saw the assignment as a mystical lottery ticket. I was committed to this once-in-a-lifetime long shot to visit the Bwiti, to access their spirit world. Or any spirit world.

Chapter 2

MAD TO BE SAVED

My initiation into the Bwiti came at a time when I was losing interest in myself. I felt like an actor who had lost the motivation for his part. Or I was like the character of "Daniel Pinchbeck," trapped in a half-finished novel that an incompetent author was in the sluggish, surly process of abandoning.

I fell into a spiritual crisis.

I fell, and I could not get up.

Wandering the streets of the East Village, I spent so much time contemplating the meaninglessness of existence that I sometimes felt like a ghost. Perhaps I am already dead, I thought to myself. The world seemed to be wrapped in a cocoon I could not tear open, and I was suffocating in it. I did not want what other people wanted, but I didn't know how to find what I needed. I wanted truth--my own truth, whatever bleak fragment of whatever hellish totality it might turn out to be.

There are reasons why I, particularly, got sucked into this spiritual void. When I look back over my life, I can see the open jaws of the abyss awaiting me. Through my mother, Joyce Johnson, a writer of novels and memoirs, I was linked to the often maligned and sometimes revered writers of the Beat Generation, frantic in their pursuit of mystical experience across the globe (when Jack Kerouac was on a TV talk show in the late 1950s, he was asked what he was looking for. Drunk and defiant, he replied, honestly, "I am waiting for God to show me His Face." At the time, my poor mother, all of twenty-two years old, was anxiously waiting for him backstage). My mother sent mixed signals about her Beat past. On the one hand the high school yearbook quote she dedicated to me was from On the Road: "mad to live, mad to love, mad to be saved. . . ." Yet the life she seemed to want me to lead was that of a sheltered middle-class intellectual. She had seen too many friends destroyed by bohemian excesses, ruined by alcohol or speed.

A second reason lies in my preposterous last name, which sometimes feels like wearing a clown's red nose. The word can be found in any good dictionary: "pinchbeck" is a type of false gold. This shiny alloy of tin, still used in costume jewelry, was invented by Christopher Pinchbeck, an eighteenth-century English alchemist who was also a maker of intricate mechanical clocks for British aristocrats. Later, the definition of "pinchbeck" expanded to mean anything false or spurious--for instance, according to the example in one old dictionary, "The 19th Century was a pinchbeck age of literature." James Joyce included the word in Ulysses. Recently, William Safire championed its revival.

This spurious moniker has kept me remote, to some extent, from the hard facts of existence. Behind the pinchbeck facade, life always seems slightly illusory, an alchemical and improbable process. Perhaps I also inherited my ancestor's urge to seek out wonder, as well as my father's yearning for transcendence, expressed in his enormous and brooding abstract paintings. In the quest described in this book, I suspect I am working through some business left over from my heritage, as if mystical yearnings run, like rogue genes, in family trees.

My reference points for a spiritual crisis were books and authors--Nausea, Notes from Undergound, The Stranger; Kafka, Beckett, Rilke--the eloquent despair of twentieth-century literature. As I wandered the streets in a desolate funk, I would ask myself the impossible, the embarrassing, the ultimate childish question of Why?--Why this city? Why this life? Why anything? Of course I knew that "why" was a question you were supposed to stop asking around the age of ten, but I couldn't free myself from it.

I mocked myself by recalling a sequence from Hannah and Her Sisters where the character portrayed by Woody Allen first learns he has a brain tumor, then finds out he doesn't have one after all, yet still realizes--no matter how improbable it seemed before, when he was, like most of us, in cheerful denial--he will die someday. Suddenly obsessed with finding a meaning to life, he joins several religions including Hare Krisna and Catholicism--for the skit's high point, he goes to the supermarket to buy a loaf of white Wonder Bread as a sign of his new Christian faith. In the end, he resolves his crisis at a Marx Brothers double feature, realizing that laughter is, if not an answer, at least the only solace he can imagine.


From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Grippingly dramatic, powerfully moving, this is a classic of the literature of ecstasy."
--Booklist (starred review)

"In his reporting, [Pinchbeck] manages to walk a difficult tonal tightrope, balancing his skepticism with a desire to be transformed. He thoughtfully serveys the literature about psychedelic drugs, but the most exhilirating and illuminating sections are the descriptions of drug taking...Pinchbeck's earnest, engaged and winning matter carry the book."
--Publishers Weekly

"I much admire Breaking Open the Head for being the account of an authentic quest for enlightenment in jungles, up rivers, in deserts, and hardest of all to access, the human mind and heart via one of the oldest thoroughfares on earth, mind-expanding drugs. This is a serious and illuminating journey."
--Paul Theroux


From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .


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179 internautes sur 194 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Stalking the sacred plants 14 janvier 2003
Par Royce E. Buehler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
(Four and a half stars) Dreams are fascinating, and psychedelic experiences are fascinating, to the one who has them. And the rule of thumb is, that people's descriptions of their fascinating dreams and trips rate right up there on the boredom
meter with hole-by-hole narratives of your boss's last golf game.
It's not coincidence, I think, that the two great, readable narratives to come out of the psychedelia's da-glo glory days in the sixties (Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) and its nightmarish decline and fall in the seventies (Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) came from two fellows whose primary love and loyalty was to journalism. Then the substances that Daniel Pinchbeck calls "entheogens" fell into cultural eclipse, the interminable pathology known as the War on Drugs took center stage, and little original or noteworthy has been published on the topic for quite a while. Terence McKenna, brilliant but sometimes barely in touch with the real world, has had the field pretty much to himself.
Now we've got another entrant, not quite up to Wolfe or Thompson, but as wide ranging as McKenna, while staying more level-headed and instructive. The strengths of "Breaking Open the Head" are once again journalistic. Pinchbeck undertakes an odyssey in search of genuine shamans, who can properly initiate him into the authentic use of psychoactive plants. He takes us with us on his journey, sets us into scenes from West Africa, to the invisible perennial contemporary Woodstock in Nevada known as the Burning Man Festival, to the Amazon, to the peyote fields of Mexico, to labs in New York City where chemicals the plant kingdom never quite got around to inventing are concocted and consumed.
We get Pinchbeck's trip reports, yes. We also get his personal spiritual journey, and a refreshingly objective picture of what remains of traditional shamanistic cultures, and what is emerging of Western shamanism (or pseudo-shamanism, as the case may be.) Best of all, we get his thought-provoking ruminations, goosed by his eclectic reading from Huxley to Eliade to Walter Benjamin to Rudolf Steiner, as to what this mysterious human drive to get high at almost any cost is all about. I don't think much of his answers, but his principal question is spang on: what is it about Western civilization? What gives us this chip on our shoulder about any and all forms of ecstatic consciousness, chemically assisted or not? Why is ours almost the only culture in the world to regard hallucinogenic plants with horror, rather than with reverence and
respect?
In the final few chapters, Pinchbeck goes off the deep end, down a rabbit hole into which few of his readers will probably want to follow, convinced that there are objectively real "plant spirits" out there directing psychedelic experiences. But his reportorial instincts are so sound, that he doesn't let his ultimate views color his account of events along the way. And so we are free to ponder some of the questions he doesn't raise. Like: if these chemicals are so all-fired spiritual, why are half the traditional shamans he meets violent, or greedy, or vain? And: how is it that all the ingesters from traditional societies
take the drugs to get practical advice from the spirit world on how to live their ordinary lives, while all the westerners take them in order to find Ultimate Answers, and to step outside consensus reality? With goals so different, can the Westerners' quest really lay claim to the value these substances might have within traditional cultures?
A lively, illuminating read, one of those books that is as fun to argue with as it is to learn from.
88 internautes sur 94 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Psychedelics and Anti-Capitalism 23 décembre 2002
Par Thomas M. Seay - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
We can now speak of an entheogenic renaissance and this book is part of the growing literature of that movement. "Breaking Open the Head" is an autobiographical account in which the author details his transformation from a cynical Manhattan atheist to an entheogenic psychonaut. Along the way, the writer introduces us to the various psychedelics in use, their effects and cultural history (i.e how they have been used throughout history &/or at present).
One element that differentiates this book from other psychedelic accounts is Pinchbeck raises criticisms of capitalism, often via
the voice of Walter Benjamin. We are all under the spell of capital. We are hypnotised by commercials and advertising jingles. We are told, by the powers that be, that capitalism is "natural", that we have arrived at some kind of Hegelian "End of History", in which capitalism has won and any attempts to imagine a different scenario, a different form of global exchange, is empty utopianism. Unfortunately, many of us have accepted this fabrication. And so it is, that the rainforest continues to be depleted, many people in Third World countries live in poverty (thanks to multinational corporations and the politics of debt played by such organizations as the World Bank); spiritually
empty we, in the post-industrial capitalist countries, greedily seek to fill our spiritual emptiness with things, commodities. We consume more and more, yet still cannot fill the emptiness. We're like rats on a turnwheel.
Psychedelics MAY be PART of the antidote to all of this.
Through psychedelics we are awakened from our trance and can see the world from a completely different perspective. Psychedelics spark creativity. It has been said that Silicon Valley (where I work by the way) would not exist if it were not for acid. That may be an exaggeration, but only in part. Numerous luminaries in the field of computer science sought/seek inspiration through psychedelic visions. What's more, psychedelics reveal a broader (not necessarily HIGHER) reality. As biological organisms, our brains have specialized (at least this is my opinion) and have closed out many parts of the larger reality that exists. In our everyday existence, We stare out at the world through a narrow chink and conclude that is all there is.
All this may sound incredible to those who have never experienced
the states entrained by psychedelics. Many believe that psychedelics are a means of escaping reality. It is possible, like all things, that they could be used to that end. However,
for the escapist, psychedelics would not be the drug of choice. The reason for this being that psychedelics are AMPLIFIERS, not sedatives. If you were to use them as a means to escape some phenomenon, that phenomenon would more than likely end up in your trip amplified to the nth power!
I am happy that through his book an anti-capitalist orientation has been introduced into the psychedelic context. While it is true that psychedelics have more or less defied being co-opted by capitalism (indeed there is a "war on drugs" campaign), there could be in the future an attempt to "integrate" psychedelics into capitalism. We have seen how the "New Age" is, for the most part, a marketing scheme. We have learned how paranormal talents, such as remote viewing, were tested by the CIA for use in spying. Should we break through this period of "anti-drug hysteria", one can well imagine that psychedelics could be coopted for capitalist use.
We, instead, should use psychedelics as a means of breaking free of the capitalist mindset, envisioning other possible socio-economic systems, and re-associating with the broader reality that exists (which some call the "spirit world").
60 internautes sur 65 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Absolutely essential reading on many levels....... 3 octobre 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
If you've found the writing of Terence McKenna interesting and thought-provoking, then you should consider this book an immediate must-read. However, Pinchbeck's book deserves to be read (and hopefully WILL be read) by a much wider cross-section of society than McKenna's. One of the problems inherent to writing about psychedelic experiences is that the nature of the experience itself makes describing it through the written word extremely difficult. I think Pinchbeck has done an incredible job of bridging this gap (to the extent that is indeed possible) and relating his experiences in a way that even someone who has never touched a psychedelic substance can begin to understand.
While that in itself is an important achievement, I think the real value of this book lies in the moral and ethical issues it ultimately poses for the reader...and this includes both those who've used these types of drugs, as well as those who've never even had a beer. The issues of corporate greed, ecosystem destruction, and blatant consumerism have never been more relevant to our society; the author addresses these issues with thought-provoking insight, and offers some extremely interesting and somewhat frightening ideas about the future of the human race....ideas that seem to have been catalyzed, but NOT created, by his use of psychedelics.
In my opinion, that's where the real value of this book lies, and the reason it should be a rewarding and worthwhile read for anyone who considers himself a concerned, active, thinking member of society and the human race. It would be a tragedy if potential readers overlook this and skip the book based on a preconceived notion about the subject matter.
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Maybe I'm Just Cynical 17 mars 2008
Par Jambi - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I've read 2012 and have begun reading Breaking Open The Head, but I'm not sure if I have the stomach to finish it. Pinchbeck is just too superficial. The man has no ideas of his own and can only write books by assembling a collage of other people's thoughts and inserting a comment here and there. The man's a journalist and it shows in his writting.

I guess a bright side to that style is that the reader gets plenty of exposure to other writers and thinkers, but that's about it. Pinchbeck is over rated, due mostly to the fact that there arn't many people out there covering the subject matter at this point in time.

I wouldn't recommend Pinchbeck, or this book, to someone who's just beginning to take an interest in the subject, psychedelics. There are better books out there written by wiser people that offer more information and insight than Danny could muster in 20 volumes.

Check out Huston Smith, Alexander Shulgin, Terence McKenna, Rick Strassman, Gordon Wasson, Albert Hoffman, Alan Watts, Adulous Huxley, and their contemporaries before getting hung up on Pinchbeck. You'll be glad you did. And even if you have already fallen in love with him, check out those authors and read it again, if you want your heart broken.
18 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Humpty Dumpty Story 21 juillet 2006
Par Michael - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
My initial thought upon starting this book was that Daniel Pinchbeck's personal odyssey to find the source of Truth and Knowledge arose from his need to experience the creative forces that formed the artistic life of his mother, a talented Beat Generation writer, and his father, an accomplished abstract painter. I wondered if this would be just another middle-class "drug tale".

Fortunately, for the reader, his metier is a deft and sparkling prose style that enriches the telling of his story and induces us to follow him on his journey.

Throughout this book, I felt a kinship with Pinchbeck in that I, too, have felt compelled to find meaning beyond the insanity that stands in for culture in America; an insanity, I might add, that is increasingly propelling us towards a questionable existence that is impossible for a thinking person to ignore any longer.

My seduction, however, was tempered by fear and my journeys stayed in the intellectual area rather than the experiential. Like many in my generation (the 60's, hippies), half-hearted attempts at searching for "enlightenment" eventually gave way to being co-opted by the very culture I tried to abjure.

Pinchbeck, on the other hand, finally reached a point in his life where his own dysfunction forced him to reach towards the things that appealed to him in his youth. He wanted to return to a kind of naivete and hope in psychedelic drugs; a time before media, politics and capitalism ended the real quantitative advancements (especially in psychological healing) that psychedelics were just starting to reveal. Instead, what resulted from those times was a sterile and superficial marketing-driven world that has spawned the self-absorbed, drug culture we see today; a culture where there's a medication for every physical, social and psychological disorder and where the culture itself is the intoxicant of choice to mask the divisiveness, hatred, injustice, dangers and lies we must face every day in our society.

"Breaking Open the Head" is an apt title for the audacious--some would say foolhardy--attitude Pinchbeck proceeds with in his "spirit quest". Yet, as a foundation for his psychedelic journeys, there is an intellectual framework that ranges from Plato to Rudolph Steiner and from neolithic cave paintings to the Burning Man Festival.

In fact, besides this being superbly-written story of one man's exploration of the "subtler realms", "Breaking Open the Head" is an invaluable survey of historical and current ideas as to the nature of mind and reality.

What becomes clear as one reads the book is that for a hundred millenia, mankind had existed in an often mysterious and dangerous world with the help of some kind of knowledge available to just a few. Yet it is apparent that for any group of people to survive, these few individuals would have to have been part of that society.

Only in the last 300-400 years has science been around to create the surety in today's world that "everything can be explained" if only science has enough time and resources to explain it.

Daniel Pinchbeck's record of his journey is vital for a society that is so isolated from nature that even with great numbers of scientists, scholars and thinkers shouting at the top of their lungs about the imminent dangers we are creating in our environment, the collective public response is a shrug of the shoulders.

I've just begun reading "2012", Pinchbeck's latest book. It will be fascinating to see how his journey continues. The inherent dangers of his exploration that he describes at the end of "Breaking Open the Head", probably would have been enough to end my own "trip". But without "psychonauts"--explorers of the mind--like Pinchbeck to guide man down through the ages, we might not have evolved any farther than have our more hirsute cousins; the apes.
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