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2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl Hardcover – May 4, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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From the Back Cover
"Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl is a dazzling kaleidoscopic journey through the quixotic hinterlands of consciousness, crop circles, and ancient prophecy, as well as an intriguing and deeply personal odyssey of transformation. 2012 presents a compelling and complex teleological argument, weaving together the twilit realms of the human imagination and the harsh realities of accelerated global catastrophe. Its conclusions are surprisingly robust, original, and thankfully optimistic."
"A daring and intriguing, sometimes deeply disturbing, very well researched and extremely readable book that puts an entirely new slant on 2012. From quantum physics to aliens, from crop circles to reincarnation, from shamanic hallucinogens to Rudolf Steiner, from the Amazon jungle to Stonehenge, from fragments of jaundiced autobiography to the ending of worlds, Pinchbeck takes us on a mind-bending, paradigm-rattling ride."
- Graham Hancock
"Few things are more difficult to convey in writing than the epiphanic drug experience or the mystical vision, and it is to Pinchbeck's credit as a writer that he is able to articulate these visions so clearly and memorably."
_ Geoff Dyer, Los Angeles Times
"Pinchbeck's reporting is fascinating and entertaining." - Brian Doherty, Washington Post Book World (front page)
"The author is not some hippy-dippy hedonist staggering down the road of excess but rather a skeptical philosopher of consciousness seeking the enlightened path." - Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly
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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.
Mr. Pinchbeck is on to something of profound significance, but his wandering personal narrative style tends to defocus the important points, and he is too often sidetracked by a fascination with his own drama. His overarching thesis about the nature of time and reality, and our culture's hide-bound blindness and antipathy to other possibilites is something we need to take seriously, and yet he stumbles all over his existential angst while trying to get us there. A lot of this material has already been presented in a more scholarly and ultimately more engaging way by the late Terence McKenna. While there is something to be said for Pinchbeck's unflagging personal honesty, I wish he could have settled some of these issues and matured a bit before he wrote the book. His insights, personal difficulties and confusion stand as not-so-mute testament to the mess we're all in as the age of Scientific Materialism reaches critical mass.
Top international reviews
This to me seems like one man's quest to justify his own substance misuse behaviours and to glorify such experiences with little relevance to the subject matter at hand.
Even seemingly qualitative research methods are not explained or methodoligy set out, instead the author uses name-dropping of popular psychoanalysists to try and back up his points with very little indication of their relevance.
I have NEVER thrown a book away (considering them precious objects from which knowledge springs) but did with this one. I would steer clear of anthing written by this man in the future...and it's not as though I had failed to grasp the concept that he was trying to illustrate-it is something I am very interested in and like to think I know a bit about, he just did a very bad job of explaining it!