- Hardcover: 255 pages
- Publisher: Abelard-Schuman (1974)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0200040189
- ISBN-13: 978-0200040181
- Package Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,715,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The man who turned on the world Hardcover – 1974
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Where Leary leaves off, Hollingshead picks up and goes further down the historical road of psychedelics and its progenitors, describing the psychedelic renaissance from the Leary-Albert streams into that of a whole movement, first of Harvard 1960-61, then of the International Federation for Internal Freedom in the 1963-64, the Agora Scientific Trust, Inc in Manhattan 1963 and Castalia Foundation (named after Herman Hesse's book) of 1964-67 and the League for Spiritual Discovery of 1966-68, etc., etc., expression of the metaphysical reality and the beauty of the flower of the spirit, the Age of the Flower Children born out of the individual experience of transcendence as in an earlier age, the Vedic Soma that brought the light of consciousness into the world.
Hollingshead has been there, said that, done that and has done a hell of lot more than most people I've had contact with. He's the man with the famous Maionaise Jar with 5,000 hits of pure Ergot acid, the man who first turned on Timothy Leary and Richard Albert (Ram Dass), Maynard and Flo Ferguson and many, many others.
Hollingshead knowledge of the external movement and influence of psychedelics is both impressive and of great interest, things you find out that you never knew but wish you had. But ultimately, it's his understanding and depth of the internal Buddhistic, ego-crushing descriptions, his Eastern and Western comparisons, that have me loving this book as a real treasure.
At the end of the book Hollingdale writes:
Our mind craves dreams, those magical realms, for ever present between somewhere and nowhere, which beguile us with a thraldom all their own and help keep our sense of wonder alive. And if the new 'matter-of-factness' encroaches on our brain to no other end than to make of our life a thing and not, as it longs to be, an instrument of self-transcendence, we feel distressed by our inability to dream as once we did; and all delight is gone, our life somehow diminished, which is the cause of most of the angst in the self-the knowledge that what is most human in our life is being determined not by our 'true' needs, which are divined from the centre of our being, opening like the petals of the lotus and are beyond thought, beyond intellect, 'beyond striving', but are on the contrary, determined entirely by external forces, through no choice of ours.
We are at once the victims and the beneficiaries of modern technological advances. Reality is now the new myth-making substance. We are manipulated by man-made dreams which develop artificial wants: frozen and tasteless foods, bland, homogenized lives; cliché-ridden beliefs and standardized rituals; conspicuous consumption; the 'pooled self-esteem' our Western forms of nationalism make possible; mechanical gadgets; devotion to science and the 'reality-principle'; and the abandonment of any religious revelation, so that even our religious leaders and intellectuals do not use words like 'spiritual' and 'idealistic' at all freely, for they are themselves quite happy with their material comforts and the labor-saving world of gadgets and good health that goes with them, and would consider those who preached that the happiness people want should be sought for in any kind of nirvana, mystic ecstasy, theoria, transcendence, as certainly other-worldly.
What the spread of technological culture has done is to push the boundaries of the literal miracle, the 'other-world', the magical far outside the range of ordinary everyday human happiness. Miracles, our politicians tell us, do not originate in some supernatural religious state but must be realized in this world and have their basis in the familiar facts of technological progress, in communication, education, transportation, public health, etc., etc. But those who have found a source of happiness in a life of the spirit are of the opinion that there has been a retrogression in our aim for a true culture of humanity. While we are busily pouring ever-increasing intellectual efforts into improving our means, we have forgotten the ends they are intended to achieve. Do we really know what we want?
This question is more likely to be answered in the Alternative literature of protest, the theme of vagabondage, and the exploration of individual human consciousness via drugs, Zen Buddhism, Yoga, esotericism, Buddha, the Hermetic arts, alchemy, visionary experience, Tantra, hesychast methods, hypostatic union of Christ and man, and all the charismas of the spirit. Those who affirm that the real truth and source of all human joy and happiness lies wholly 'within' must try, with whatever means they can get, to break the hold of that view of life which has replaced the potentialities of the human mind with the perspective of its mechanical extensions, the extensions of transportation and social planning and mass conditioning which are now turning on the body and strangling it as the serpents did at Laocoon.
Modern society is growing infertile, devoid of a living culture, no longer productive of any personal form, an abstract, lifeless, cinematic world of machine-made interpretations about the self. It is not surprising therefore if we tell ourselves that all revelatory experience is foolishness, so much so that man sees himself increasingly as nothing but an 'energy slave' or a cipher on the face of a moral and spiritual void. And as the knowledge of his own disorientation cannot be handled within the framework of so-called normality, he turns more and more to his brave world of machines. And through the power of his machines he acts out the uncomprehended tragedy of man's inner disruption. Yet it was the Ancient Chinese Sage, Huang Tzu, who proposed some 2500 years ago that dependence even on a simple kind of machine causes man to become uncertain of his own inner impulses; and further, the result may lead him to forget how to master his own world.
So we have learned instead how to master our machines, because machines do not serve us unless we service them, but in the process we have had to adjust our human organization to our equipment. We tend to get what the machine can best give us rather than what is most desirable.