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The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My…
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The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna

by Dennis McKenna

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The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss is a strange memoir. I can’t say it’s a fantastic read, and then again, I can’t dismiss it either. A Kickstarter project by Dr. Dennis McKenna, this biography not only explores the lives of Dennis and his more famous brother, Terrence, but also contains a fair amount of philosophy and science. It obviously has a niche audience, people who take and enjoy hallucinogens, and see a potential for consciousness-altering botanicals to be ingested as psychic medicine.
Because of my own novels in the Falcon series deal with a fictionalized psychedelic toxic botanical, I was obviously curious to see what Dr. McKenna had to say about his experiences with mushrooms and the consciousness-altering brew in use in in Brazil (and probably Northern California) called ayahuasca.
This is quite a long book, and I’m sure many readers skipped through the painstaking recollections of Dennis and Terrence’s childhood, and went for the main event: an incident in La Chorrero, in which Dennis and Terrence confabulated complicated theories about the universe while consuming mind-boggling amounts of mushrooms. Not being a fan of Terrence McKenna’s, I was till now unacquainted with the theories this event spawned. I am open to the idea that plants and animals may be influencing our consciousness and evolution in subtle ways, yet the verbiage emerging from La Chorrero seemed way out. I’m also not a confirmed stoner, many of the group’s musings left me scratching my head. I remember from my own days smoking pot with a troubled Vietnam vet, that things often seemed to make sense when stoned though.
What I did like about this book is that Dennis McKenna stayed scrupulously honest. He didn’t try to idolize his brother or profit from his brother’s cult reputation. Dennis spoke with heartfelt regret and mature understanding of the various events of a long and rich life. Often, he digressed into philosophical abstractions I barely understood. Other times, his dry sense of humor made me smile. The book was professionally copy-edited, and the writing completely competent. I loved sentences like “From an early age I was a junkie for proprioceptive novelty.” As an extended biography, it gave me yet another glimpse into the turbulent sixties, and I appreciated that, and its candor.
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1 vote AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:18 -0400)

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