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Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius Paperback – June 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Sixties were a time of revolution—political, social, psychedelic, sexual. But there was another revolution that many historians forget: the rise of a powerful current that permeated pop culture and has been a central influence on it ever since—the revival of the occult. Beliefs that were previously ridiculed took center stage—in the music of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, in films like “Rosemary’s Baby,” and on the bookshelves, with Lord of the Rings, The Tarot, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead becoming best–sellers. Astrology, kabala, hippies, yogis, witchcraft, Satanism, drugs, UFOs—they all became the common currency they are today. But when Sixties liberationism met the occult—as it did with the Manson murders—it was often with sordid consequences. In Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman delves deep into the dark heart of the mystical Sixties. The author, as Gary Valentine, was a founding member of the hit music group Blondie. He’s now a writer and literary critic for publications that include MOJO, THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT and THE LITERARY REVIEW. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gary Lachman was a founder member of Blondie and wrote the group's early hits. Born in New Jersey and a long-time resident of both New York and Los Angeles, he now lives in London.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Disinformation Books (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971394237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971394230
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Lachman (1955- ) was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, but has lived in London, England since 1996. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, he is now a full time writer with more than a dozen books to his name, on topics ranging from the evolution of consciousness and the western esoteric tradition, to literature and suicide, and the history of popular culture. Lachman writes frequently for many journals in the US and UK, and lectures on his work in the US, UK, and Europe.His work has been translated into several languages. His website is

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Riley Gordinier on March 9, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subject is fascinating and needs more attention, but Lachman has an ax to grind. Is he disgruntled or just out for a buck? His criticism of the book "The Morning of the Magicians" in reality applies to THIS book. It is "badly researched, poorly documented and full of inaccuracies". Lachman's book is written in a superficial tabloid conspiracy buff style. You may recognize a phrase here, a phrase there, lifted from others.
Lachman makes the most tenuous connections to build his argument. For example, Bobby Beausoleil wore a top hat (not unusual at the time). So did Mick Jagger on a concert tour. Therefore the Rolling Stones are connected with the Manson family. One use of the word "magic" is enough for him to label a writer as magical. He labels the Marxist philosopher Marcuse a Gnostic, who wanted to bring magic to politics. Lachman follows the common newspaper editorials of the day in equating student activism with Nazism. He also argues that occultism=Nazism and environmentalism=Nazism! He finds Anton LaVey's philosophy "revolting" although I doubt he knows anything about it. He supplies untruths, such as that LaVey had a "dope-smoking lion" and "often appeared in the buff" in girlie magazines.
The book has a British slant, although he is unaware the Picts were not fictional. Some terms will be unfamiliar to Americans. He is unaware California has a long history of religious cults, and never mentions Ravi Shankar in a discussion of the sitar. The first 200 pages are hard to get though, as it is a historical survey through books - who wrote what, and who turned who on. Writing about Jack Parsons, he uses the term "South Orange Grove Avenue" for his house at least 8 times in 10 pages, and "spit and image" for "spitting image", showing the need for an editor.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
for persons who, like me were too young to participate in the Sixties.
I did not know just how heavily the Sixties were influenced by ideas taken from writers of fantasy, science fiction, and occult literature. Imagine designing a commune based on novels written by persons who had never lived in communes themselves, who had no practical experience of them. Small wonder so many communes ran into trouble!
Shortly after reading the chapter on Carlos Castaneda ('The Teachings of Don Carlos') Amy Wallace published her memoir, 'Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda.'
Reading that book in conjunction with Lachman's book will be fascinating.
One large demerit I would assign to this book is that Mr. Lachman does not disclose what his own philosophical position is, which means the reader cannot take Mr. Lachman's biases into account.
My take is that Gary Lachman appears to be deeply sympathetic to Gurdjieff/Fourth Way work. There is nothing at all the matter with this, but if you're a practitioner of 'the Work', this will affect your perspective on spiritual and occult/magickal practice. If this is where an author is coming from, his or her readers deserve to know.
At the same time Lachman gave some very misleading information about Zen Buddhism, classifying it as an occult discipline, which in fact Zen is not. The radical thing about Zen is that it rejects all attempts to pursue or cultivate special powers or special states of mind, and considers these distractions that keep the ego busy spinning webs of illusion
In the academic world, it is standard practice for authors to tell the reader what their own stance is, so the reader can take author biases into account when reading their material. I wish Gary Lachman had been up front about his belief system.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Loring Knowles on May 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Lachman's opus on what he terms the dark side of the 1960's is breath-taking in the scope of material he addresses and the seemingly disparate personages and movements that he ties together. However, he often seems like a conspiracy-obsessed Christofascist driven to reducing everything to Charles Manson and Satanism. Drawing a (albeit convuluted) line from gurus like Alan Watts to 60's villians like Manson and Anton LaVey is at the very least misleading, and what's worse, smacks of libel. If you approach the material with advance knowledge of Lachman's flaming prejudices and sensationalistic tendencies, Turn Off Your Mind can be an interesting review of the counter-cults of the era, much in the same way Michael Howard's Occult Conspiracy is an interesting yet flawed overview of the role of secret societies in world events.

I'm not quite sure an author who's immersed himself so deeply in esoteric subjects as Lachman tries so hard to play to the kind of ignorant hysterical prejudice we take for granted from people like Pat Robertson. Is he trying to sell books by slapping the "satanist" label on any religious philosophy that is even slightly unorthodox? Or is there some strange agenda to shepherd the earnest yet naive seeker into the dark side by tying unlikely figures like John Lennon and Jack Kerouac to Beezelbub? There are considerable leaps of logic and assumptions lept to that aren't backed up by evidence, but even so anyone interested in the subjects covered will be entertained and occasionally edified. There remains an opportunity to tackle the topics that Lachman cover in Turn Off Your Mind in a more constructive and responsible fashion. That is unless you believe that Tolkien and Casteneda lead inevitably to Nazi Satanism, as Lachman seems to conclude in the final chapter of the book.
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