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Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism Paperback – August 12, 2003
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
meter with hole-by-hole narratives of your boss's last golf game.
It's not coincidence, I think, that the two great, readable narratives to come out of the psychedelia's da-glo glory days in the sixties (Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) and its nightmarish decline and fall in the seventies (Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) came from two fellows whose primary love and loyalty was to journalism. Then the substances that Daniel Pinchbeck calls "entheogens" fell into cultural eclipse, the interminable pathology known as the War on Drugs took center stage, and little original or noteworthy has been published on the topic for quite a while. Terence McKenna, brilliant but sometimes barely in touch with the real world, has had the field pretty much to himself.
Now we've got another entrant, not quite up to Wolfe or Thompson, but as wide ranging as McKenna, while staying more level-headed and instructive. The strengths of "Breaking Open the Head" are once again journalistic. Pinchbeck undertakes an odyssey in search of genuine shamans, who can properly initiate him into the authentic use of psychoactive plants. He takes us with us on his journey, sets us into scenes from West Africa, to the invisible perennial contemporary Woodstock in Nevada known as the Burning Man Festival, to the Amazon, to the peyote fields of Mexico, to labs in New York City where chemicals the plant kingdom never quite got around to inventing are concocted and consumed.
We get Pinchbeck's trip reports, yes.Read more ›
One element that differentiates this book from other psychedelic accounts is Pinchbeck raises criticisms of capitalism, often via
the voice of Walter Benjamin. We are all under the spell of capital. We are hypnotised by commercials and advertising jingles. We are told, by the powers that be, that capitalism is "natural", that we have arrived at some kind of Hegelian "End of History", in which capitalism has won and any attempts to imagine a different scenario, a different form of global exchange, is empty utopianism. Unfortunately, many of us have accepted this fabrication. And so it is, that the rainforest continues to be depleted, many people in Third World countries live in poverty (thanks to multinational corporations and the politics of debt played by such organizations as the World Bank); spiritually
empty we, in the post-industrial capitalist countries, greedily seek to fill our spiritual emptiness with things, commodities. We consume more and more, yet still cannot fill the emptiness. We're like rats on a turnwheel.
Psychedelics MAY be PART of the antidote to all of this.
Through psychedelics we are awakened from our trance and can see the world from a completely different perspective. Psychedelics spark creativity.Read more ›
While that in itself is an important achievement, I think the real value of this book lies in the moral and ethical issues it ultimately poses for the reader...and this includes both those who've used these types of drugs, as well as those who've never even had a beer. The issues of corporate greed, ecosystem destruction, and blatant consumerism have never been more relevant to our society; the author addresses these issues with thought-provoking insight, and offers some extremely interesting and somewhat frightening ideas about the future of the human race....ideas that seem to have been catalyzed, but NOT created, by his use of psychedelics.
In my opinion, that's where the real value of this book lies, and the reason it should be a rewarding and worthwhile read for anyone who considers himself a concerned, active, thinking member of society and the human race. It would be a tragedy if potential readers overlook this and skip the book based on a preconceived notion about the subject matter.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fantastic and brave book that will teach you SOOOOO much about psychedelic drugs without shying away from the good and the bad elements in this culture.Published 24 days ago by Sam Green
A really fascinating book. Pinchbeck is all over the place at times, but it all seems to come together as a coherent narrative.Published 1 month ago by AberHerrDoktor
Bought as a gift. Receiver seemed genuinely excited. If you know someone who'd be into this stuff, this seems like a great choice.Published 2 months ago by J. P.
A great intro into the world of consciousness altering. Contains some important warnings. A good read after the Castañeda classics.Published 2 months ago by V. Homem
Phenomenal whirlwind of mind altering history, experiences, citations, magic, occult mysteries, and personal stories that made me re-think the nature of reality. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jessica
It was full of information, but appeared to be a collection of articles and essays written over a period of time. Read morePublished 13 months ago by geespot
Outstanding Read. A well researched, engaging, and honest account of a disillusioned intellectual's attempt to come to terms with the loss of the sacred in the modern world, and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Reverence