Years ago, I read Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head, and found it to be a good and interesting book, even if somewhat inconclusive.
Somehow I missed Rolling Stone‘s profile of him over a year ago. It’s a really interesting story – his influences and where they took him. I saw Pinchbeck on the Colbert Report a few months ago talking about his new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and I was quite confused.
I counted myself as a fan until his second book, 2012 – which cooled me to Pinchbeck considerably.
When it comes to the potential of psychedelics – responsibly used – to change people and society for the better, I am a true believer. But the social space that surrounds this “contemporary shamanism” can be troublesome, and the beliefs that arise to “fill in” the space of a newly-expanded mind can be troublesome as well.
The best result of the psychedelic experience is the acute dissolution of the Ego, or at least its temporary death and the palpable eminence of its illusory nature. In the subsequent integration of such a profound realization, a good human learns love, humility and a more honest, interdependent harmony with the world.
Sometimes, though, the Ego seems to over-correct.
I’m not saying Pinchbeck is a nut. In fairness, he’s probably saner than most ordinary Americans. But he seems to have developed a rather troubling Messianic complex, and this is sadly not uncommon in these circles. I agree with him that humanity is poised for – or currently undergoing – an unprecedented, accelerating transformation of consciousness. If the lights don’t go out, we may very well be in the first inning of a New Renaissance.
But where Pinchbeck and I part ways is his literal belief that something cataclysmic is going to happen in 2012 – with Pinchbeck as a central figure. He doesn’t get very specific. It seems to involve the fact that God told him – via Quetzalcoatl, the Mayan bird-serpent – that he is some kind of Chosen Vessel who will transmit ancient interdimensional intelligence that year, which will also mark some kind of end of time, or end of society as we know it. Bit parts are also played by the Devil (who has a white mohawk,) quantum physics, crop circles, peak oil, the derivatives crisis, and so on.