December 23, 2003


Just finished Rational Mysticism by John Horgan (formerly a writer for Scientific American). The book is basically a series of interviews with people who are after enlightenment in one way or another, including Al Gore's favorite guru (who claims to have achieved zen enlightenment, but whom the author finds incredibly annoying) and the inventor of LSD. Zen, mescaline, postmodernism, and many other approaches are investigated.

Unsurprisingly, Horgan does not find scientific proof of the validity of mystical experiences. But the book is interesting in a dozen different ways. It demonstrates the incredibly lame work done so far on the physiology of meditation, and debunks some of the myths around the psychedelic movement. I think inadvertently the book demonstrates what a Harvard thing the psychedelic movement was - not just Timothy Leary - there must be half a dozen Harvard types in this book ingesting Amazon hallucinogens and whatnot.

Horgan himself tilts toward gnosticism, which views the creator as a malevolent demon. He takes as evidence of this the death of a 43 year-old Stanford astrophysicist specializing in the study of low-probability events. A father of three, he was killed when a car ran through the front window of the coffee shop where he was sitting - on Father's Day.


Post a Comment

<< Home