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2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl Hardcover – May 4, 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews

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Product Description

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin; 1st edition (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585424838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585424832
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Thomas on July 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is less of a book and more of a collection of note cards thrown into the air and then randomly assembled. Sometimes the reader gets a run of a few pages that seem linked, yet in other places Pinchbeck goes from topic to topic in a matter of paragraphs or within one paragraph itself. On pages 52-53 he goes from maya to Relativity Theory to enlightenment to psychic phenomena to synchronicity. Sounds good if you do justice to each of those topics, but not if you are just throwing them out there because they all sound good together.

His propensity for generalizing is rampant with such things as "according to Eastern thought" (cause we all know Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism are really of one mind). These generalizations turn scary whenever he broaches the topic of women. His anger and bitterness towards women (p.356) is obviously based on personal history, but he tries to couch it in cosmic terms. He also rails against monogamy, but his argument seems to be that monogamy is getting in the way of him having sex with whomever he wants (seriously). At one points he has the arrogance to write, "if women want to do the work of integrating their shadows" (p. 328), as if there are not legions of women out there doing it to a degree he can't begin to approach himself.

In places where he writes on his work with plant medicine (p. 254 -260), he seems to hit his stride and some of his best reflections come out. It seems as if the constraint of keeping to a story, however briefly, does him a world of good in regards to being coherent. It's always good to hear the plants speak, even if through such a shaky scribe.
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By vw on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For someone who has spent so much time ostensibly obliterating his ego, Pinchbeck uses the words "I, me, and mine" with surprising frequency. "Breaking Open the Head" was a brave and well-told story, and Pinchbeck does have great skill at telling the tales of his own adventures down the rabbit hole. He is, at his best, a journalist with a skill for wrapping his own experience into fascinating questions.

But 2012 is a disorganized, rambling repeat of many of the delightful "Breaking Open" tales with some vague and poor attempts at analyzing and synthesizing "scholarly" information about the upcoming apocalypse, mysticism, crop circles, and psychedelics.

2012 left me with the nagging, slightly sticky feeling that Pinchbeck was not a wide-eyed explorer of consciousness, but rather a rich Manhattan art world brat (his description of walking around Berlin in the rain is particularly indicative) who left his wife and daughter in pursuit of the End of the World Party complete with as much free sex and intoxication as he could afford. Rock star or mystic? Free thinker or man trapped by his own pursuit of What Is Cool?

After bushwacking through the crop circle revelations and the mysteries of the modern calendar, 2012 settles upon and rediscovers - or discovers, as Pinchbeck seems to believe - the complex world of non-monogamy. He declares that the polyamorists among us are more emotionally evolved and free, and uses this thin, tired excuse to treat women with great disrespect. One wonders if the feminine principle Pinchbeck claims to value includes women over 40, mothers, and women who choose celibacy as a spiritual pursuit.
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Format: Paperback
Pinchbeck's "Breaking Open the Head" was as good a book as this one is awful.

In "2012" Pinchbeck capitalizes on two heavy cultural phenomena, one contemporary and the other ancient. A smart student of cultural trends, he rides the cresting, recent wave of renewed psychedelic research, entheogenic studies and self-experimentation; and as New Age Consciousness Wonk he also invokes the ancient, time-tested vehicles/archetypes of Prophet of Doom and End of World Preacher (though Pinchbeck's Apocalyse is of a particularly unspecific, vague, and metaphysical nature, when he is challenged about it; he will not tell you what the Apocalypse is, and he does not hesitate from using that undefined fear to sell books).

To these two Main Ingredients he tosses in a few smidgeons of UFO Religion, a morsel of Goddess spirituality, and a pinchbeck of post-modern neo-Mayanism (nothing like a dead religion; no living followers to challenge half-baked modern interpretation and misappropriation by the white man). And Bam! You got your basic Pinchbeck layer cake. Throw in some hints to the ladies that his guru stud services are available, and there's your frosting. But this rock and roll psychedelic celebrity cake, though loaded with calories, has zero nutritional value. Its only purpose is to put Pinchbeck on the lecture circuit and generate fame at Burning Man and a New York bohemia notable mention. Bon Apetit!

In a little more detail . . .

When I spend time reading about psychedelic culture, I want to read something original. Instead we get in "2012" highly secondary and derivative ramblings about a dozen different ideas originated and popularized by other people.

2012 as a psychedelic focus was popularized by Terence McKenna. Pinchbeck is no McKenna.
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