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The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History Paperback – May 8, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
McKenna's ( Invisible Landscape ) wild theories about how hallucinogenic experiences are the last best hope of a world gone mad are at the center of these essays and interviews, most previously published. McKenna interprets three decades of flying through the deepest and highest levels of consciousness, encountering extraterrestrials, unknown languages and "the Other," the self seeking new levels of interior human existence. Much of his experience comes from trips--physical and drug-induced--to and with Amazonian Indian shamans. McKenna is best when he describes the multicolored landscapes and backgrounds of his visions and their settings. Such description, though, is rare; the author serves mostly as millenarian missionary, predicting an apocalypse for the year 2012. He gives short shrift to the demonstrable healing properties of the Amazon drugs, neglecting the most persuasive data as to why natural hallucinogens ought to be taken more seriously. He opts instead to promote hallucination as a messianic panacea for the individual psyche, not unlike the New Agers and pop psychologists against whom he rails incessantly.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
McKenna has been exploring the "Wholly Other" for 25 years. In this spiritual journey, he ponders shamanism, buddhism, and enthnopharmacology. By the phrase "archaic revival," McKenna refers to a return to shamanism, which he believes can be enhanced by current scientific practices. The next level of spiritual transformation, he explains, is achieved by the intelligent use of psychedelics and should be performed only by thoughtful explorers rather than experimenters, scientific or otherwise. The ideas presented in this collection of interviews, speeches, and articles are radical even now, and will challenge the reader. There are many insights on current spiritual movements such as goddess worship, deep ecology, space beings, and virtual reality. Recommended.
- Gail Wood, Montgomery Coll. Lib., Germantown, Md.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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This is one of my favorite books of all time, in my top five. It perfectly encapsulates the new wave of neo-shamanism in the later 20th and early 21st centuries.
Added 8/11/09: Since putting up this review, I have been lambasted twice by people who seem to think it necessary to ridicule my opinions of this book. I should not have to defend my opinions of a book.
Reading the text above, I never stated this was a scientific text, but a cultural one. However, apparently stating that Terence McKenna is a scientist is a sin to some that is deserving of a criticism that goes beyond the point of opinion to just plain being rude. McKenna received a Bachelor of Science from U.C. Berkeley and to look at a definition of what a "scientist" is (according to Wikipedia): "in the broadest sense, refers to any person that engages in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge or an individual that engages in such practices and traditions that are linked to schools of thought or philosophy. In a more restricted sense, scientist refers to individuals who use the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science." I have copies of both Webster's and Oxford Dictionary, and the definitions are similar. I did also mention that McKenna's text "The Invisible Landscape" is the book more aligned with the scientific method, co-written with his brother Dennis (Master's in Botany at the University of Hawaii, Doctorate in Botanical Sciences from University of British Columbia). I do not seem to recall any particular certification that is given to those who receive a degree in the sciences to separate the "real" scientists from the "pseudo" ones. Until that delineation can officially be made to the world, I would appreciate it if the sardonic disrespect of my opinion would cease.
Further (Mr.Akers) I am no "McK apolgist" but just liked the damn book. Please do not label me into a camp of people for which (using the scientific method) you have no proof that I am associated with.
If you want to engage in a respectful discussion, I am fine with that. Or, if you want to criticize the book, then create your own review and get off my thread. Thanks.
Instead of seeming to be written exclusively for futuristic scientists with an affinity for psychedelic drugs, the book seems to be aimed at the much wider crowd of anyone with an open mind and a vocabulary. The ideas described vary in topic from UFO abductions to a 15th century manuscript, and everything in between. most of the chapters have some common thread connecting them, the only exception being "The Voynich Manuscript." im not really sure where he was going with this chapter in relation to the rest of the book, but its interesting nonetheless. anyway, the book is nothing but a collection of speeches, essays, interviews, etc conducted by him over the years, and is really meant to be an introduction to his philosophy. His other books: The I Ching, and Food of the Gods, though i havent' read them, have been reviewed to be much more technically worded, hard to read, and aimed at students of mathematics and anthropology/ethnobotany. The Archaic Revival is more or less easy to comprehend, but he does use some terms over and over again that the average person wouldn't know (ie. phenomenology, entelechy, gnosis), so have a dictionary close by if you want to get the most out of the material as possible.
Terrence McKenna has some very bizzarre ideas for sure, and not everyone will relate to all of the ideas expressed in his writings, but i think that most ppl can find something about it they find interesting, and for the psychedelic crowd, McKenna's ideas sound like solaces from beyond, as he so easily verbalizes concepts that otherwise seem impossible to explain. His ideas of social reform and reverting to imitating plants as the role models of human life and civilzation, rather than animals, are so insane that they make more sense than anything i've ever heard. As far as his idea of the end of human history and the transcendence of physical existence into cyber-spiritual entities, all happening by the year 2012, i think he was a little off with the exact figures of time, as im writing this on Oct. 30, 2005 and it doesn't look like the world is going through a historical apocalypse in the next 6 yrs., but oh well--when you're dealing with the entirety of history, you can give or take a couple thousand years w/out compromising the legitimacy of your idea. plus, who knows, maybe on Jan. 1, 2012, we'll all be sitting around watching our bodies dissapear and our souls externalize.
I would reccommend this book to just about everyone, although i imagine it would be very hard for a 13 yr old to read, but im sure there are some very intelligent 13 yr olds out there who could comprehend it. for the open-minded, the book should be fascinating and engaging in its freshness, and for the rigid western thinkers--it should at least crack the shell and expose the possibilities of what's really out there. if anything, i'd say this is a book of non-denominational hope, derived and reported back from the past, and in McKenna's case--the future.
The _Archaic Revival_ also contains other interesting essays, often emphasizing the concept that language is the basis of all consciousness and reality. Mckenna has many insightful theories on the nature of langauage, consciousness, subjectivity, solipsism, and the self as center of the universe. I highly recommend this book to all readers.