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2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl Hardcover – May 4, 2006
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The acclaimed metaphysical epic that binds together the cosmological phenomena of our time, ranging from crop circles to quantum theory to the resurgence of psychedelic drugs, to support the contention of the Mayan calendar that the year 2012 portends a global shift-in consciousness, culture, and way of living-of unprecedented consequence.
Amazon Exclusive: Daniel Pinchbeck on 2012: The Truth Behind the Doomsday Hype
The Classical Maya developed a highly sophisticated civilization in the Yucatan and Guatemala that vanished 1,000 years ago. They were extraordinary architects and astronomers, and developed methods of timekeeping that are far more precise than our Western calendar system. Although we destroyed most of their scrolls, our archaeologists have discovered that the Maya looked toward the year 2012 – specifically the date December 21, 2012 – as the end of a "Great Cycle" of 5,125 years on their Long Count calendar. According to the Mayan creation myth, the Popol Vuh, such cycles end with the destruction of the old way of life and the inception of a new world. Many scholars agree that the Classic Maya pointed to this time, around the year 2012, as the juncture between one world age and the next.
As we approach the threshold, it becomes more and more difficult to escape the feeling that the Maya had mysterious foreknowledge about our time. We are currently in the throes of an ecological crisis, brought about by human activity, which threatens us with disaster if we do not immediately change our ways. Basic resources such as fuel, water, and food are becoming scarce around the world. Many scientists have predicted cataclysm due to climate change and pollution that could lead to the extinction of the human species in a short span of time. On the other hand, we are also experiencing a massive leap in human consciousness. Our world is now meshed together through communications technology and social networks that act as a "global brain." We can transmit new ideas and transformative practices instantly across the world.
In my book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, I proposed that what happens in "2012" depends on what humanity decides to make of it. We might see global famines and wars and increasing misery, or we might decide to institute a new planetary culture based on empathy, alternative economic systems, sustainable design, and an equitable sharing of wealth. According to the prophecies held by the Maya and other indigenous cultures, we may integrate modern scientific knowledge with Eastern spiritual wisdom and indigenous shamanism, leading to a new understanding of the physical and psychic cosmos. Rather than "doomsday," 2012 could be a time of positive transformation and the opening to a new way of life.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Pinchbeck, journalist and author of the drug-riddled psychonaut investigation Breaking Open the Head, has set out to create an "extravagant thought experiment" centering around the Mayan prophecy that 2012 will bring about the end of the world as we know it, "the conclusion of a vast evolutionary cycle, and the potential gateway to a higher level of manifestation." More specifically, Pinchbeck's claim is that we are in the final stages of a fundamental global shift from a society based on materiality to one based on spirituality. Intermittently fascinating, especially in his autobiographical interludes, Pinchbeck tackles Stonehenge and the Burning Man festival, crop circles and globalization, modern hallucinogens and the ancient prophesy of the Plumed Serpent featured in his subtitle. His description of difficult-to-translate experiences, like his experimentation with a little-known hallucinogenic drug called dripropyltryptamine (DPT), are striking for their lucidity: "For several weeks after taking DPT, I picked up flickering hypnagogic imagery when I closed my eyes at night ... In one scene, I entered a column of fire rising from the center of Stonehenge again and again, feeling myself pleasantly annihilated by the flames each time." Pinchbeck's teleological exploration can overwhelm, and his meandering focus can frustrate, but as a thought experiment, Pinchbeck's exotic epic is a paradigm-buster capable of forcing the most cynical reader outside her comfort zone.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
Also, my mother-in-law read this and had to stop about 2/3 in because of some very anti-feminist rhetoric featured in the book. Apparently Pinchbeck is a bit of a sexist. Or so she felt by his writing.
It has taken me a while to complete the task of finishing up this book. I had started it several months afters its publication, but had to put it down as other things had occupied my attention. The enthusiasm to pick it back up had wanned a bit, and it wasn't until a few months ago that I decided to task myself with completing the read.
Whereas Pinchbeck's Breaking Open the Head was a subjective journey into psychedelics and the spiritual nature of these indigenous catalysts - which ultimately led Pinchbeck to accept the spiritual realms - 2012 is his continued journey into the belly of the spiritual and paranormal - with continued psychedelic use - as he attempts to search for truth and find a place for himself in this new spiritual worldview. In his first book, he was a man in a mid-life crisis attempting to look for something more in his shallow post-beatnik literary New York world. In his second book, he's a newborn making discoveries and drawing conclusions in an attempt to make sense of his new knowledge. It was an interesting transition to watch him go through.
Pinchbeck is well learned; and 2012 is an excellently researched book. It offers a springboard for several points of study should the reader want to go off in any one of the many directions that this book takes. Pinchbeck brings up everything from psychic abilities, the occult, to many other fringe sciences and archeology. This book is not one that you tread lightly in. Leave the TV off. You're going to need your concentration.
Pinchbeck spends a lot of time focusing on crop circles in what is probably the most entertaining section of the book. I'm not a crop circle fan, but his work in this area does make me want to investigate some of that phenomena further.
Pinchbeck's style is very multi-tiered. He mixes normal events in his personal life with researched material as well as spiritual experiences. In this way, 2012 can be read from several different angles: as a research tome, as a spiritual investigation, and as a personal look at the psychology of the author. It wasn't until the latter 2/3's to 1/4 of the book that I felt that the third tier was overpowering the rest.
Two significant things happen in this book that affect the rest of the writing: Pinchbeck comes to his epiphany about crop circles, and he cheats on his partner by making out with another woman. Both occur at roughly the same time. When Pinchbeck has his epiphany, he makes the transition from researcher to philosopher. He takes his conclusions and runs with them, believing that he has found the key to the crop circles and trying to find someone to hear him out. This epiphany, in many ways, seems to affect his outlook on spirituality. He builts a condescending attitude towards the New Age and flippant tiredness towards events like Burning Man - an event where he decided to trip and then stretch the experience by refusing to sleep and fasting.
Furthermore, Pinchbeck begins to preach the necessity of polyamorous relationships, and seems to be trying to use indigenous relationships, and a search for a new way at viewing sexuality, as a justification for his infidelity. I know a few people who are polyamorous, and one thing I know for certain is that they accept all ideas of sexuality. They have never tried to preach the virtues or "rightness" of theirs over another's beliefs. Pinchbeck's insistance on polyamory boils to the point of a "voice" in his head demanding that he sleep with a woman who had previously turned him down or else kill himself by walking off into the wood. This is later understood by Pinchbeck to be the yearnings of a past self, but his insistence and attitude during this episode is a contradiction to the open-mindedness displayed earlier in this book.
Whether the end is near or not we'll never really know until it is upon us, but one thing that shines through dramatically in this book is the necessity to pay attention to the indigenous cultures of the past and heed their myths and stories. These people were far more in tune with the world than we ever were. They know that the environment is having issues... now it's out turn to listen and act. Daniel Pinchbeck gives us a phenomenal look at one man's journey to find his place in all this madness. Maybe it'll move some of us to do the same... and along the way, maybe we can fix some of the damage that we've done.
What I like is Pinchbecks openness towards "the other side". He actually tries it all: drugs, crop circles, meditation, 2012 "prophesies", mayan calendar stuff and so on, with an open but inteligent mind. Often his reasoning is interesting to follow, sometimes it gets a bit too longwinded. I also like that he does not give the reader a new philosophy or ontology or religion or system of beliefs. Rather, as I read him, it is an attempt to shake a little the ingrained view of reality we usually take for granted. Is the established conception of reality so obvious? Or is there something fundamental that we can't see? And if so, can alternative world views give us a hint? 2012 opens up windows to alternative and fascinating ideas, described by someone with a foot in mainstream acedemic discourse as well. Which I think is unusual.
New age-fans or seekers of a belief system will probably find 2012 too ambiguous. Rather I think this book is intended for sceptical readers with an open mind.