Daniel Pinchbeck’s new spirtualist manifesto 2012 is understandably hesitant to make itself plain. But if he’s correct there’s not much time left to put faith on the table: half a decade, in fact, until the return of the Mayan god Quetzacoatl and the elevation of human consciousness to a new plane of psychic harmony. Following years of immersion in psychedelics (chronicled in his first book,
Breaking Open the Head) and exploration of every conceivable philosophic tradition, Pinchbeck—once an editor at
Open City and literary type about town—now believes himself the reincarnation of the ancient Buddhist emperor Ashoka, fated to predict and catalyze an imminent global revelation.
He relates this realization slowly, with ex-ponentially mounting fervor. The author, it seems, did not want to be a prophet, but just can’t shake the intuition that—as “a somewhat bohemian and alienated intellectual, capable by circumstances of birth and education of conceiving the entire pattern”—he’s compelled, at this juncture, to mediate the realms of heaven and earth.
“The entire pattern” synthesizes the teachings of Benjamin, Jung, Nietzsche, Marcuse, and Yeats;
The Tao of Physics and the Sacred Day Count of the Maya; crop circles in England and rifts in the galaxies. This total coherence, as Pinchbeck explains it, exposes at least one of two circumstances: the truth of a “fantastically complicated visionary revelation” of a vague new order and “a symptom of mental illness.” Whether we believe in the first is the very heart of the matter. The nature of this transformation will be consciousness-raising, and we must, within the next few years, ready and open our minds.
Clap your hands if you believe in Pinchbeck. We have indeed reached a great precipice if the brightest vision a once progressive critic can offer is anointing himself a culture hero. When those who should be just ahead of the curve blast off desperately into the stratosphere, this is a cause for real—if not apocalyptic—alarm.