In tracing the meaning of the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 and the imminent transition from one world to another prophesied by the Hopi Indians, Pinchbeck synthesizes indigenous cosmology, alien abduction, shamanic revivalism, crop circles, psychedelic visions, the current ecological crisis, and the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse into a new vision for our time. The result is an inquiry into where humanity is immediately headed--and its startling congruence with the ideas of the mysterious civilization of the Classical Maya.--From publisher description.
Anyway, he's a false prophet. Like Tim Leary and a succession of acid fascists and psychedelic capitalizers / exploiters before him, he was blessed with epiphany like so many but he lost the plot. For a genuine contemporary sage, try Ken Wilber.
It would be so cool to hang out with Daniel Pinchbeck, wouldn’t you think? Imagine how the conversation might go:
Daniel: “So, as I was saying, Ahriman (called Mephistopheles in 'Faust' ) is the being that drags us down towards the material world, the mineral realm, and death. Ahriman's goal is to enslave us in matter, while opposing him is Lucifer—the “light-bringer”—the being that draws us upward towards escapism, imagination, and fantasy.”
Me: “Far out.”
Daniel: “According to Rudolph Steiner, the goal of human evolution is to find a balance between those two forces and to—Jesus Christ, is that a chupacabra?!”
Me: “What?! Where?”
Daniel: “Over there! On top of the bookcase! A goddamned terrible, bloodthirsty chupacabra perusing my autographed copy of 'Being and Nothingness' by Jean-Paul Sartre!”
Me: “I don’t see anything… are you sure?”
Actually, Sartre faced similar problems in his later years, after he started getting loaded on mescaline to inspire the writing of his last few books. The freaky old existentialist ended up thinking he was being chased through the streets of Paris by an evil, albino lobsterman. Not even Simone De Bouvier could talk him down… but Daniel Pinchbeck could’ve, I’ll bet!
Daniel Pinchbeck, after all, is the man who found out—as he describes with great humility and tip-toeing trepidation in "2012: The Return of Queztalcoatl"—that he’s the actual, living and breathing reincarnation of that South American deity formerly known as Quetzalcoatl. That’s right: the big, feathered serpent dude, who was like Jesus to the Aztecs—Quetzalcoatl!
I know… I could hardly believe it myself, but it’s true!
(In Jungian analysis, this process of identification with an archetype is called “inflation”—not to be confused with what’s going to happen to our economy if the Fed keeps buying Treasuries. Psychic inflation often results in a bloated ego, or worse. In rare cases, it can even result in a book with the scary number 2012 in the title [cf. Whitley Strieber for confirmation].)
You might think that being dubbed the latest and greatest incarnation of Quetzalcoatl would make it easy to score chicks, but on that count you would be sorely mistaken. Feathered serpent gods have their fair share of romantic disappointments, too, as Daniel is all-too-willing to admit. One day, not long after he was telepathically informed of his badass Quetzalcoatlness, he was just hanging out in a rain forest down in the Amazon, grooving on nature, when he met a young and very pretty lady shaman. (I’m paraphrasing from the book like crazy here, in case you couldn’t tell; Daniel describes the encounter in much more finely-wrought paragraphs—pages and pages of over-wrought … I mean, "finely"-wrought paragraphs.) Impetuously enthralled—and only recently divorced—Daniel decided that the lady shaman should fall in love with him. It just made sense: her being a pretty lady shaman and him being Quetzalcoatl and all….
Now, you may find this hard to believe (I know I did, and I know Daniel did…), but the lady shaman told him she only liked him as a friend. In fact, the very pretty lady shaman refused to give Daniel/Quetzalcoatl even so much as a handjob!
Just try to imagine his ancient Aztec indignation. Go ahead: Try! But try as you might, you’re bound to fall short, unless the savagely beating heart of a feathered serpent god resides in your breast, too, my friend.
Well, that’s about all I remember from "2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl." A long time has passed since I read that book. I vaguely recall being quite enthused about it when I first brought it home; I must have stayed up all night reading it. Just as with his first book, "Breaking Open The Head," I’m sure that the mere act of reading Daniel Pinchbeck’s "2012" metaphorically broke open my own head in several very important ways, but broken heads are sometimes accompanied by amnesia, or so I’ve been told.
(Crop circles… I’m pretty sure there was something about crop circles in there….)
Oh, well. Kudos, Daniel! Well done!
Good news: the first third of this book explains what is known about Mayan culture and the Mayan calendar which is set to "expire" on December 21, 2012 (or is it October 11, 2011?);
Good news: the first third of this book discusses seemingly similar theories from ancient cultures such as the Hopi and Tibetan Buddhists;
Bad news: the last two thirds of this book is erratically interesting at best, there is some talk about crop circles that is captivating;
Bad news: much of this book is written as a personal memoir, in a stream of consciousness format, centering on personal hallucinogenic experiences.
I had never read a Daniel Pinchbeck book or article but have heard good things about his writing from friends, so when I was looking for a book about 2012 I decided on this one based on the author and what friends had told me. Initially I was impressed, I took notes on the people he spoke about, the cultures he referenced and theories he discussed. Suddenly, though, he began discussing his personal life - which never connected with what I believed the focus of the book was supposed to be on: 2012! He talks about his not so good relationship, and how he is away more than at home. He discusses his use of hallucinogens, which is extensive; but he justifies hallucinogen use on the basis that he is searching for his true self and needs them to break through his sub-conscience. I am sure the second two thirds of the book was very cathartic but for me it was very repetitious and mind numbing - definitely not mind expanding.
If you do get this book, focus your energies on the first third. Scan the last two thirds for interesting tid-bits and then call it a day.