Sunday, March 02, 2008


I recall that just about the time I discovered R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz and other esotericists (via Colin Wilson) Graham Hancock's The Message of the Sphinx came out, based in part on Schwaller de Lubicz and Robert Bauval's work. I liked that book fine, though its reasoning was occasionally shabby. I picked up Hancock's latest on a whim and see that our paths of inquiry are still converging. I've been reading a lot of the same books he has, including those by Terrance McKenna, Jeremy Narby, Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, etc.

Supernatural is primarily worth a read because of its audacity. What on one page is admitted as pure speculation will in two pages transform mysteriously into reasonable theorizing, and then a chapter or so later will become established fact and basis for further theorizing. At times I had to laugh out loud at this process, but not always in a deragatory manner--I found some of Hancock's leaps delightful. (I also like the descriptions of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs as "therapists." I've met Jacobs--he's a history prof who hypnotizes people to "recover" their alien abduction memories. Whatever your thoughts about his procedure I don't think Jacobs is a "therapist.")

Despite its adventuresome theorizing I don't think all of Hancock's ideas are meritless. I'm also curious about the fact that shamans in Peru drink ayahuasca and see visions of entwined serpents, and that Professor Crick took LSD and discovered the structure of DNA when he had a vision of entwined serpents. I also think prehistoric cave art is shamanic and likely derived from some sort of altered consciousness. These are curious coincidences, worthy of speculation and inquiry.

But I would recommend reading books by McKenna and Narby and Eliade and Jung and Pinchbeck (and Crick's book about panspermia) instead of Hancock's. There's not much new here, and what is new is likely to occur to you as you read the better books.

Or you could just watch Ken Russell's Altered States.


brad said...

Hancock is no McKenna, but I enjoyed the hell out of Supernatural, and I do believe that by perturbing brain chemistry,one can see different levels of reality. I believe that the brain is a receiver and filter of consciousness. By changing the channel, so to speak, the brain resonates at a different level. I'm aware of how "new agey" that sounds.

I would recommend to your readers a book called Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur. More of a Jungian work than speculations on exotic chemicals like DMT, it talks about the idea of a "world soul" and our interaction with it. Fascinating and engaging.

Nyarlathotep said...

Thanks for the Harpur recommendation. I'm adding it to my Amazon Cart!