Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties

Jay Courtney Fikes

The author attempts to set the ethnographic record straight, by comparing “true Huichol rituals” (which he studied as an anthropologist living with the Huichol Indians for several years) with what he considers the “counterfeit productions” of Castaneda. He compares his own ethnographic writings with Castaneda's books and finds very few similarities. He says that Castaneda's books are mostly the result of “New Age capitalists competing to meet unmet psychological or religious needs,” but never the result of anthropological research, as Castaneda claims. The author did not find any brujo who could fly over waterfalls, as Don Genaro does in A Separate Reality; and to raise suspicions even more, Castaneda refused to send the author his field notes so that he could analyze them. AF

Publisher: Millenia
Paperback: 283 pages

The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives

Stanislav Grof

Grof expands Freud's theories beyond their oral and anal limits. Through LSD psychotherapy Grof discovered the “womb” stage. With his guidance and enough acid, his patients could actually recall their “womb” experiences: “He saw images of religious and political gatherings with throngs of people seeking comfort in various organizations and ideologies. He suddenly understood what they were really seeking; they were following an inner longing, the same craving he felt in relation to the primal experience of oceanic ecstasy that he had known in the womb or at his mother's breast.” AF

Publisher: HarperCollins
Paperback: 239 pages

Shamans of the 20th Century

Ruth-Inge Heinze

This book shows that it is possible to be a shaman and lead a successful life in the 20th century. Heinze introduces us to the lives of a Korean shaman who won a folk song contest in her home country, making her a TV star, and a Haitian voodoo neurochemist with a degree in biochemistry from Cornell University, among many others. This study is the result of five decades of work with shamans from all over the world. “The reader will, furthermore, learn more about the background of the oracle who is still consulted by the Dalai Lama at his residence at Daramsala, Northern India, and the shamanistic work of a 'Western' lawyer in the United States.” AF

Publisher: Irvington
Paperback: 259 pages

Quantum Psychology

Robert Anton Wilson

This might be the most effective twelve-step program. If one were to follow the steps herein carefully, one could be released from the mental habits that might turn one into a guru, a Republican, or an art critic:
“Weather permitting, leave the house, go outside to the street and look around. How much of what you see would have existed if humans had not designed and built it? How much that ‘just grew there’ would look different if humans had not cultivated and encouraged (or polluted) it?” AF

Publisher: New Falcon
Paperback: 192 pages

Ishtar Rising: The Goddess Obsession

Robert Anton Wilson

Ishtar Rising is centered around the overwhelming figure of the female breasts. How do we relate to them? What do we think about them? As usual Wilson comes up with a formula that explains the situation. He theorizes that the visual availability of breasts accounts for a culture’s condition at a certain historical time, so breasts become a sort of social barometer. In essence this is the formula:
Breasts-a-go-go = a happy, non-neurotic society.
Breasts-a-no-no = a repressed, anal society. AF

Publisher: New Falcon
Paperback: 186 pages

Inventing the AIDS Virus

Peter H. Duesberg

Duesberg is one of the world’s leading microbiologists, a pioneer in the discovery of the HIV family of viruses. He begins his study by historically analyzing diseases that were thought to be caused by a virus but were not, such as SMON, a disease that struck Japan in the 1950s and was caused by medicine given to patients as treatment. Or scurvy, which was fought as a viral disease until it was discovered to be caused by dietary deficiencies. He cites these examples in order to back up his theory that HIV is not the cause of AIDS.
This book goes beyond Michel Foucault’s wildest fantasies. Duesberg reevaluates the clinical histories of the first five people who died of AIDS-related complications, in 1980, only to find our that all of them were heavy users of inhalant nitrates (or “poppers”), once used heavily in the gay community. According to Duesberg, these are highly toxic and can cause Kaposi’s sarcoma within a short period of time. Duesberg also observes that there is a correlation between the people who actually die of AIDS and their history of drug use, indicating that drug abuse may be the primary reason for the immunological system’s breakdown. So, according to Duesberg, Foucault probably didn’t die because he was infected by the HIV retrovirus but because he had been attending some wild Parisian parties.
Another controversial point made by Duesberg is the “latency period” concept. It is an accepted fact that diseases caused by a virus like polio and smallpox have an immediate effect on the organism. He argues that a “latency period” of years of duration was invented when scientists were convinced that leukemia was a viral disease and the only way they could justify the connection between it and cancer was by expanding the length of the “latency period” until it reached 40 years. The author sees this is as a baroque attempt to save the theoretical framework in spite of the fact-based reality of the disease.
Duesberg questions the efficacy of AZT, ddl and ddC, which he shows to be very toxic. He claims that the cure causes the disease, calling it “AIDS by prescription.” He brings forward many cases, including that of Magic Johnson, who stopped the AZT treatment and is still alive, and that of Arthur Ashe who didn’t stop the treatment and who died shortly thereafter. AF

Publisher: Regnery
Hardback: 722 pages