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Reviews by David Bey
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LSD: Doorway to the Numinous
by Stanislav Grof
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by David Bey
3/21/2013

By the 1975 publication of Realms of the Human Unconscious, Stanislav Grof was prepared to assert the existence of “a vastly extended cartography of the human psyche” including two new realms whose non-existence were central to the (even now) prevailing scientific worldview: the perinatal––relating to the experience of embryogenesis and birth––and the transpersonal––relating to experiences of the synchronistic, telepathic, karmic, or otherwise out-of-body variety. [ read more ]

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A Greater Monster
by David David Katzman
Publisher:
Bedhead Books 
Year:
2011 
Reviewed by David Bey
7/18/2012

[...] author David David Katzman has taken the plunge and produced an exuberantly psychedelic narrative. [ read more ]

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Trance Formation: The Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of Global Rave Culture
by Robin Sylvan
Publisher:
Routledge 
Year:
2005 
Reviewed by David Bey
6/19/2012

Sylvan’s aim is to posit the power of rave culture as being globally transformative; however, he seems to think that the mere experience of universal connection is sufficient so far as positive political action goes. Missing also is the critique of rave culture as merely being part of what Herbert Marcuse called repressive desublimation: the blowing off of steam that serves in the long run to cement social norms. In the end, anyone in contemporary culture believing that the best way to enrich your soul is to lose your mind, and that the best means for doing that is through the exuberance of the body, is going to be fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy. In the struggle to honor and dignify this style of worship, Trance Formation is a solid resource. [ read more ]

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The Amphetamine Debate: The Use of Adderall, Ritalin and Related Drugs for Behavior Modification, Neuroenhancement and Anti-Aging Purposes
by Elaine A. Moore
Publisher:
McFarland & Company, Inc. 
Year:
2011 
Reviewed by David Bey
3/12/2012

If the aim of Moore’s book is to “cover both sides of the debate over amphetamine prescription and use” then her work is, to put it mildly, an embarrassing failure. The book is unabashedly in favor of stimulant drug use, going so far as to dismiss the better part of those problems associated with said stimulants as being largely the result of insufficient legal access to speed, owing to pesky government restrictions. [...] If, however, the goal of The Amphetamine Debate is to provide aid, comfort, and what is essentially a resource guide for anyone wishing for greater legal access to stimulant medications––a resource guide camouflaged in a stupefyingly shallow way as a seriously researched impartial exploration of a difficult issue––than, for what’s it’s worth, I suppose the book is probably a success. However, woe betide anyone looking for a genuine engagement with the debate alluded to on the book’s cover. [ read more ]

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On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine
by Nicolas Rasmussen
Publisher:
NY University Press 
Year:
2008 
Reviewed by David Bey
12/23/2011

The stories and relationships in which Rasmussen seems to be most invested, and which he teases out in the greatest detail, concern the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that speed itself seemed to direct the evolution of culture in the United States—the culture of the American medical community, if nothing else. For a well crafted history and critique of the ongoing evolution of that “speed” with which we are plunging forward, and the chemicals that fuel and are fueled by it, we have Rasmussen to thank for his educational, entertaining, and ultimately troubling book. [ read more ]

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Birth of a Psychedelic Culture: Conversations about Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties
by Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner with Gary Bravo
Publisher:
Synergetic Press 
Year:
2010 
Reviewed by David Bey
7/6/2011

One of the most interesting features of this book is the fact that joining Ram Dass and Metzner—whose conversations with Bravo form the bulk of the text—are a rich assortment of shorter but no less personal statements by a wide selection of surviving individuals who were involved with psychedelics in the 1960s. If Leary, Ram Dass, and Metzner were the “fathers” of the movement, then these other folks were the mothers, foster-parents, midwives, baby-sitters, mischievous aunts and uncles, fellow travelers, and simple eyewitnesses to the growth of the culture that was birthed during that time. [ read more ]

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