Friday, April 17, 2009

You should read Food of the Gods.

Food of the Gods is without a doubt one of the most fascinating and intriguing books I have ever read. (And I have read a lot of fascinating and intriguing books.) Anyone with any intellectual curiosity whatsoever should read this book. Even if you are completely resistant to Terence McKenna's ideas regarding psychedelics, you will still find plenty here to ponder and enjoy.

McKenna starts out by establishing his thesis: that psychedelic mushrooms are the original "tree of knowledge." The beginning is tough, because it's obviously difficult to make any kind of convincing, coherent argument about archaic cultures. McKenna makes a valiant attempt, though, and backs up his assertions with as much evidence as one could reasonably expect. I found this part of the book to be the most difficult to follow, and I imagine that many readers would find it equally difficult to swallow.

Once you've muddled through the first part, Food of the Gods becomes increasingly accessible. McKenna tracks the rise of various substances and their influence on the development of culture. "Drugs," in this book, are defined in such a way as to include alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate and television. As tempting as it may be to dismiss this interpretation out of hand, McKenna offers a wealth of thought-provoking historical knowledge that is worth considering.

Food of the Gods presents so many controversial, perplexing, and frequently compelling ideas. I don't believe that they are all meant to be taken literally, and even if they are, I wouldn't. But it is worthwhile and occasionally even inspiring to be exposed to such a radical perspective on humanity.


songsbuildingsfood said...

i can't talk about it at any length because it just makes me sound like a stupid hippie, but some of the very best and most powerful experiences of my life have been on mushrooms and i really and truly feel there is something magical and transcendent about taking them. Even if it's not a truly spiritual experience but only an illusion of such a thing, a psychedelic placebo effect or whatever, the illusion or effect or whatever is sustaining and wonderful and powerful enough to be just as good.

Caitlin said...

I feel the same way, and I don't think it's a placebo effect or an illusion. I believe that the magical, transcendent feeling is something real, that mushrooms can establish a genuine connection between your own brain and something else, some other vast entity. The universe, or nature, or Earth, or the collective consciousness... I'm still trying to learn to articulate it well enough to write about it.