So you'd like to...

protect yourself from the Mystic Bourgeoisie

A guide by Christopher Locke (Boulder, CO USA)
(REAL NAME)   

Products sampled from this guide:
...so I'm working on a new book tentatively titled Mystic Bourgeoisie: Numinous Lunacy & the Sanctimonious Narcissism of the NewAge++ (or) the unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to believe in signs & portents that would make the Middle Ages blush.

I like short, pithy titles.

The idea of the ++ in "NewAge++" is that this new breed (ilk, if you will) comprises far more than the usual tinfoil-pyramid-hat crystal aromatherapy angels-out-the-yin-yang crowd. Many concepts that have come to be uncritically accepted as capital-T Trooths would have been laughed at not so long ago. How did this stuff sneak up on the culture at large? How did its axioms and premises come to infiltrate the shelves of the typical bookstore beyond the New Age -- excuse me -- Metaphysics section? Today these hugely questionable ideas permeate books categorized as Self-Help, Relationships, Psychology, Health, Philosophy, even Science. How did Americans (especially but not exclusively) become so steeped in outright superstition?


Read 'em and weep
The pharmacological experimentation of the 1960s certainly precipitated a resurgence of edgy and full-bore occult beliefs. A couple good books on Esalen Institute, the scene of the crime for much of this malarky, are The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement: The First Twenty Years and On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (Religion in North America). One of Esalen's chief boohoos at the time was Abraham Maslow, whose The Farther Reaches of Human Nature became something of a sacred text for the newly hyper-spiritualized encounter-in-a-hot-tub set. The "transpersonal" so-called psychology that came out of those hot-tubs is now widely accepted as relevant to some actual reality, though there's not a shred of evidence that it constitutes anything more than drug-induced wishful thinking. Roll up for the mystery tour. Here are a handful of titles to get you rolling... A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality (though Wilber now claims to be neither New Age nor Transpersonal; uh-huh), The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives (by an old acid "researcher"; me too, but I quit just shy of 10,000 um experiences), and Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing Through Spiritual Illusions ("the writing is always engaging and lucid" says Booklist, but YMMV; mine did).


The Lower Dregs
And those are among the more <koff> "rational" of these modern shapersons. Dropping down a few rungs, anything by Tupak Okra is... well, let's call it enlightening. For instance, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence is a trip, as is, more literally, the breathily "spiritual" computer game The Journey to Wild Divine Biofeedback Software & Hardware for PC & Mac: The Passage -- woo-hoo! And who could forget Wayne Dyer? My favorite is Manifest Your Destiny: The Nine Spiritual Principles for Getting Everything You Want. The sheer chutzpah of using "manifest destiny" -- a.k.a. Indian Removal -- in that way is nothing short of breathtaking. The list of these modern-day mystic bourgeoisie could go on forever. Let me just mention one other fave: Marianne Williamson. Although perhaps best known for her A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume: Text, Workbook for Students, Manual for Teachers, 2nd Edition boosterism via A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", you simply must check out The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life. Be sure to use Amazon's "Search Inside" feature to peruse the back cover -- it goes a long way toward explaining her popularity with the growing throng of Babes-in-Spirit wannabes.

And I guess I mustn't neglect to mention, however briefly, the sine qua non contribution of the Science as Mystical Obfuscation School of Unadulterated Blatherskite: What the Bleep Do We Know!?. I have an answer for that question, but it's not printable here -- except to say, not BLEEPing much!


Oversoul'd Baboons
However, this stuff didn't start with the '60s. Not the 1960s anyway -- more like 1860s, and even earlier. Of course, the Great Granddad of American irrationalism was Ralph Waldo Emerson, of whom you've probably heard only good things. Reconsider. His reading of early (i.e., bad) translations of Eastern mystical texts sent him off on a second-childhood sleigh-ride to some unmanifest destination we can only guess at today. What was he really trying to say, for instance, in Nature and Other Writings? Chances are, we'll never know. Personally, I thought he reached the pinnacle of his philosophical powers with Brain Salad Surgery.

The real force, however, behind what was to become the New Age (and by extension, usher in NewAge++) was the indefatigable madame: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. What a piece of work! Not only did she give us a theory of "root races," including the supremacy of "Aryans -- in The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy -- but she also resurfaced a vicious little number that is perhaps best explained in all its weirdness in The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Will Eisner Library).

Another highly readable account of Madame B is provided by MADAME BLAVATSKY'S BABOON: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought.... For a reputable scholarly introduction as to how Theosophy laid the metaphysical groundwork for the Third Reich, you can do no better than Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. On the way to total madness -- that is to say, where we've ended up -- Arktos: The Myth of the Pole in Science, Symbolism and Nazi Survival tells a tale so bizarre it's guaranteed to blow your mind. Yet a Chilean diplomat, novelist and bona fide Nazi -- not to mention a pal of both Jung and Hesse (see C.G. Jung & Hermann Hesse) -- believed that Hitler was coming back from some Arctic entrance to the Hollow Earth with a full complement of SS in squadrons of heavily armed UFOs! Wow, huh? It just doesn't get a whole lot better.


Giving Comfort to the Enemy
Finally, for some of the more sobering effects of this sort of brain-damaged magical thinking, you might take a look at the U.S. contribution. Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate is a good place to start. Even the churches got into the act. Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement is a good reminder that it can happen here. And did. Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation is also an eye-opener, as is his more recent War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race.

Though much of this material descends into the worst sort of conspiracy theory and idiot-fringe psychosis, the history is solid -- these are the sorts of results to which 19th century occultism and social Darwinism led. Though those two may seem strange bedfellows, they were often just that, and proceeded in tandem. For a scholarly overview, which is nonetheless quite enjoyably readable, have a look at James Webb's excellent The Occult Underground. His sequel, The Occult Establishment, is unfortunately out of print. It's available used, but quite expensive.


Kafka Returns to Amerika
Far more expensive, however, is the widespread attitude that this kind of "mysticism" is a harmless, even socially beneficent "lifestyle option." As it was in the past, it's actually the "spiritual" underbelly of political fascism -- and it's bearing down on the present like a fast frieght. Heads up, Casey. This trainwreck is gonna be an American Beauty...

Products mentioned include:
Read 'em and weep
1.  The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement: The First Twenty Years  by Walter Truett Anderson
$20.04 Used & New from: $15.11
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2.  On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (Religion in North America)  by Jeffrey John Kripal
$17.70 Used & New from: $8.37
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3.  The Farther Reaches of Human Nature  by Abraham H. Maslow
$10.75 Used & New from: $4.19
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4.  A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality  by Ken Wilber
$15.05 Used & New from: $1.44
3.9 out of 5 stars   (69) | 1 customer discussion
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5.  The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives  by Hal Zina Bennett
$13.23 Used & New from: $0.01
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6.  Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing Through Spiritual Illusions  by Frances E. Vaughan
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The Lower Dregs
7.  The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence  by Deepak Chopra
$21.17 Used & New from: $0.01
4.5 out of 5 stars   (134)
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8.  The Journey to Wild Divine Biofeedback Software & Hardware for PC & Mac: The Passage [CD-ROM]  by Wild Divine Project
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9.  Manifest Your Destiny: The Nine Spiritual Principles for Getting Everything You Want  by Wayne W. Dyer
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4.4 out of 5 stars   (105)
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10.  A Course in Miracles, Combined Volume: Text, Workbook for Students, Manual for Teachers, 2nd Edition  by Foundation For Inner Peace
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4.4 out of 5 stars   (418) | 8 customer discussions
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11.  A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"  by Marianne Williamson
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12.  The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life  by Marianne Williamson
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13.  What the Bleep Do We Know!? [Closed-captioned] [Color] [Dolby] [Widescreen] [NTSC]  DVD ~ Marlee Matlin
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Oversoul'd Baboons
14.  Nature and Other Writings [Bargain Price]  by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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15.  Brain Salad Surgery [Import]  by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
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16.  The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy  by H. P. Blavatsky
Used & New from: $13.57
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17.  The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Will Eisner Library)  by Will Eisner
$15.80 Used & New from: $0.53
4.2 out of 5 stars   (51)
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18.  MADAME BLAVATSKY'S BABOON: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought...  by Peter Washington
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19.  The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology  by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
$21.70 Used & New from: $15.00
4.3 out of 5 stars   (27)
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20.  Arktos: The Myth of the Pole in Science, Symbolism and Nazi Survival  by Joscelyn Godwin
$14.27 Used & New from: $9.29
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21.  C.G. Jung & Hermann Hesse  by Miguel Serrano
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Giving Comfort to the Enemy
22.  Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate  by Neil Baldwin
$16.22 Used & New from: $0.48
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23.  Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement  by Christine Rosen
$40.32 Used & New from: $31.16
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24.  IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation  by Edwin Black
Used & New from: $1.81
4.4 out of 5 stars   (123) | 3 customer discussions
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25.  War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race  by Edwin Black
Used & New from: $3.40
4.6 out of 5 stars   (72)
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26.  The Occult Underground  by James Webb
$40.45 Used & New from: $26.50
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27.  The Occult Establishment  by James Webb
Used & New from: $35.73
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Kafka Returns to Amerika
28.  American Beauty  by Grateful Dead
$10.69 Used & New from: $3.99
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About this Guide

 

Author

Christopher Locke (Boulder, CO USA)
(REAL NAME)   
Qualifications: author Cluetrain Manifesto, Gonzo Mrktng, Bombast Transcrpts
Last updated: 3/22/10
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