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

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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 (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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A narrative account of the mystic sixties usually isn't my idea of exciting bedside reading or a harrowing page turner; however, Gary Lachman's Turn Off Your Mind manages to surprise you in more ways than one.

First let me start with the negative. Lachman has a tendency of drowning his paragraphs with sentences. Long and wordy, sometimes, you as the reader, feel like you're getting lost in the shuffle of facts and narrations. You begin to notice several instances where Lachman could have alleviated the reader by breaking up the paragraph, but instead, he opted to slide from one event to the next in a single contraption. Lachman also has a tendency to produce relatively long sentences structured in a sometimes confusing way. Maybe he's spent too much time in England, or is so excited about his writing that he drones on in glee (which would be justified in this case), but a few more commas or semi-colons, and he would have reduced much of the strain on his audience.

With that said, let me just state one thing: if you are interested in the occult in any way, you must buy this book - more than that, you must READ this book. Lachman, despite my few complaints, manages to weave an intricate web of occult influence for an era that is dramatically affecting the youth of today. Turn Off Your Mind might be an account of the "mystic sixties," but every figure that he discusses holds great influence in the shaping of the youth of the modern era. This book is invaluable. At first - before reading this book - I was skeptical of Lachman because of quoted harsh words I had read of his reactions to Aleister Crowley. After reading his tome, I must say: harsh words indeed. Lachman doesn't pull a single punch.
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