“Yes, my friends, every single one of you is a walking drug factory, so don’t let the DEA catch you!”
This single line does an outstanding job of succinctly translating the humor and energy of James Oroc’s (perhaps best known for his previous doctrine, Tryptamine Palace) excellent take on psychedelia in the new age, The New Psychedelic Revolution: The Genesis of the Visionary Age.
What is most commendable about Oroc’s ambitious outing is that it is mostly successful at encompassing several disciplines and ideologies with relative ease. He manages to wrangle a litany of high-brow topics into a fairly easy to digest (for those who are at least somewhat versed in philosophy, psychedelics, science, and spirituality anyway) package that is exciting and nuanced.
James has a knack for relaying pertinent information to the readers in short, digestible doses without losing too much complexity. He discusses chemistry, pharmacology, and pays homage to the often understated roles of iconic psychonauts in today’s pantheon and successfully uses these elements as a way to seamlessly transition into broader, more abstract disciplines. There is also an emphasis on respect and honoring those who came before us in the previous movement.
With everyone gunning to be the next entheogenic icon, it is nice to see that James has a vested interest in preserving the legacy of seminal psychedelic mavericks like Alex Grey, Sasha Shulgin, and Terence McKenna.
An excellent balance of scientific history and anthropological reverence. It is nice that Oroc pays respects to the cultures that impacted the current movement we’re seeing today without whitewashing or undermining their importance. While it is almost irrefutable that McKenna popularized these plants and practices for the West, it is stated here that these cultural facets were present long before he ever showed up. Subtle nuances like this help to illuminate the ubiquitous, cross-cultural relevance that psychedelics have had since time immemorial and James is not shy about respecting and paying homage to the lands that initially unearthed these substances.
The language and prose is mature and well-written without sounding unnecessarily complex or overindulgent and the text is inviting and comical, but still manages to be chalked full of substantive information. There truly is something here for anyone who is even remotely interested in psychedelia or the numinous as a result of this. He tackles everything from Art to Drug Policy to History to Extreme Sports to Spirituality and does so in a sophisticated manner that never feels pushy. My favorite aspect of this work however is it's insistence on asking some difficult questions about God and spirituality.
At times, there seems to be an almost too mercurial response to questions like: why are so many people pursuing these kinds of experiences, what is this movement trying to achieve, and why does there seem to be such an aversion to incorporating God into the equation?
There is an abundance of people attempting to quantify and rationalize the entheogenic landscape, which is fine, but how does this phenomena enhance our experience if it is stripped or devoid of it's inherently mystical nature? God seems to be mostly absent in a movement that exalts these substances as a method to unlock pathways to understanding whatever this elusive being is but if we aren’t trying to find God, why is it so difficult to respect the natural world in western society without the aid of these helpers? I thought this was a fascinating probing of the contemporary agenda and I like how James set out to explore how we can integrate these teachers into our own lives while still being open to elevatory circumstances.
One minor complaint I did have however is at times there could have been more blurbs at the bottom of the page explaining in greater detail the functionality of certain scientific theorems as I did have to hop over to a search engine a couple of times.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent piece of literature to add to your collection and I highly recommend it for psychonauts both young and old.
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