March 19, 2013
Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss
Now Playing: Velvet Underground "Who Loves The Sun"

As I mentioned in the earlier post about Terence McKenna and his legacy, Terence's brother Dennis has written a book about their shared past, titled "Brotherhood Of The Screaming Abyss" (2012). I'm going to lame out in terms of doing a formal review, there are plenty of such at anyway. While checking out the amazon feedback, be sure to read the few negative or lukewarm comments, as they bring up a couple of vital points one needs to know before diving into the book.

Subtitled "My Life With Terence McKenna" the book gives the impression of being the story of their shared experiences over the decades, the hallucinogenic aspects in particular. The initial marketing suggested that the book would reveal lots about Terence and the experiment at La Chorrera that wasn't previously known, which certainly had me interested enough to drop $100 in the Kickstarter offering plate.

Having read the book, I think both marketing and subtitle are misleading; it's basically a book about Dennis McKenna, with some chapters about his brother. It is by no means a biography of Terence McKenna, and its value for someone writing such a biography is surprisingly limited. We never get inside Terence's head, in fact we barely come close enough to look into his eyes, and despite a number of previously undocumented details, the book reads like someone trying to describe an old childhood friend who they fell out of touch with long ago. The bulk of the book, however, does not deal with Terence at all, but rather with the McKenna family, including uncles and grandgrand parents, and with Dennis academic career.

It's not sufficient to be interested in Terence McKenna to get some milage out of this book--you need to be interested in Dennis McKenna. Due to his lifelong involvement with psychedelic plants, I am personally interested in Dennis McKenna, but I think the vast majority of prospective readers have this book on their radar screen because of the Terence factor, and this difference is why I feel unfit to review it properly. I will say this though; Dennis trip report from an ayahuasca session in Brazil is one of the best and commendably detailed I have read in quite some time. And it's interesting to note that he remains ambivalent about the La Chorrera experience, dismissing it as "nonsense" at one point, yet clearly unable to let go of the old experiment and its ideas.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 01:53 MEST
Updated: March 19, 2013 01:55 MEST

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