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Darwin's Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere (In Vivo) Paperback – May 16, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

". . . offer[s] unique insights into the pleasures and desires that animate our relationships . . . The diverse source material Doyle uses serves as a model for the kind of commons he celebrates. He offers wonderfully attentive readings of trip reports from famous users . . ."―Jenna Supp-Montgomerie, Women's Studies Quarterly

Review

"A brilliant, ambitious, original piece of pedagogy. I can't imagine anybody but Doyle who could control and mobilize in the name of a single vision the range and dizzying variety of the material on offer."―Brian Rotman, Ohio State University

"This is a book for all readers who have ever wondered whether dreams are another form of wakened consciousness. Doyle expands wonder from dreams to ecodelic states and the possibilities of communication about these states via language."―Stanley Shostak, University of Pittsburgh

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Product Details

  • Series: In Vivo
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (May 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295990953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295990958
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David J. Brown VINE VOICE on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Darwin's Pharmacy is an extraordinary book, which is simply overflowing with exciting new ideas about the co-evolution of psychedelic plants, the human mind, and the planet.

Penn State English professor Richard Doyle's book is a mind-stretching achievement, that views the literature on psychedelic drugs and plants through the eyes of evolutionary theory, and how our interaction with these mind-altering plants effects their selection in evolution, and ours, by symbiotically increasing one another's reproductive success.

Doyle synergistically combines a Darwinian perspective with what is known about psychedelic states of consciousness, and fruitfully builds upon the work of great thinkers and pioneers in the field of psychedelic research--such as Aldous Huxley, Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, John Lilly, and Rick Strassman--taking us into whole new realms of thought.

Doyle's primary thesis is that psychedelic plants and human beings have been influencing one another's evolution over time, often in surprising ways. With their mind-amplifying powers, psychedelic plants seduce us into interacting with them. We help to propagate them, and they intensify "a crucial component of sexual selection in humans: discourse." That is, they give us a lot to talk about, and, according to Doyle, psychedelic plants are also helping us to engage our minds with the "noosphere," what the late French paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin called the thinking layer of our planet.

So many novel and thought-provoking ideas are playfully explored and masterfully blended in this unique volume, that I can barely summarize them here.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. It's rare to find literature in this genre that speaks so intelligently & poetically on such an essential, emerging topic-- and I sincerely enjoyed this author's ideas & writing the whole way through.

I found the passages on linguistics (as well as 'sound/icaro as guide') especially poignant. As was everything he had to say about perception and skepticism. I'm going to remind myself to share this idea from the book next time I am challenged: in the search for truth, it's not always most efficacious to be skeptical of the experiences, but rather of our limited framework of interpretation.

The fact that you are in academia also gives me hope on a personal level because I am a young professor-in-residence/life coach/psychonaut teaching in the Honors College at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but often wonder if I will (be able to) stay in an academic environment long... seeing how with each journey I take, I find it harder and harder to hide myself in my purest form, and I fear that form is not scholarly-friendly! (i.e. I recently wrote a blog about a "mystical" experience... some of my students stumbled upon it and enjoyed it, however, I'm not so sure the Dean would.)

Anyway, you are fantastic, and thank you again for such a great collection of thoughts and realities.

All the best,
Jaclyn
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Format: Hardcover
This is is an intriguing book that explores the rhetoric of entheogens and how people discuss the experiences they've had with entheogens. The author interweaves his own narrative and experiences with the analysis he provides about entheogens. If you are interested in entheogens this book will be a good read that provides you some fascinating insights into the subculture around them. The author also bases a lot of his discussion around the works of Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, the McKenna brothers and other luminaries that have discussed entheogens in their own work. What I found particularly fascinating was the connected he made to Darwin's Theory of evolution and how work with the plants is a symbiotic relationship of evolution for both humans and plants.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rich Doyle is as eloquent and clever as they come, and makes a solid argument that "psychedelic" plants helped usher in syntactic human language – and provide us with a new ontology more well-adapted than our ego narratives for navigating our increasingly bizarre postmodern age. Somehow along the way he manages to make an incredibly dorky volume just as sexy, teach us why we all love flowers, explain how language is an algorithm for self-propagating ineffability, and make tripping seem like it might almost be a moral obligation for transhumanists.

This book belongs in the library of every evolutionary biologist, philosopher, technologist, and psychonaut, or any combination thereof.
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Format: Paperback
Another reviewer stated that rather than summarizing the book (which she felt others did quite well, and I agree) she wanted simply to make the point that the actual experience of reading the book is an experience in itself.

I'd like to second her comment, and to go further and say - don't even think of reading the book - at least on the first time through - from a purely "linear" standpoint. From the start, let the words wash over you, not in a regressive way, but joining them, joining the undulating, rhythmic, at times dense and at other times scintillatingly simple prose.

journey with the oscillating, vibrating rhythms, relax and float downstream (or upstream if that is your predilection).

Find your hands in this waking dream-book and remember to breathe - remember to turn inward, to spark that "turning about in the deepest seat of one's being" as the Lankavatara Sutra has it; to find the rich kingdom within, the Divine spark which is ever-present.

Thanks, Professor Doyle!
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