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The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My…

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

by Dennis McKenna

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An autobiography about the author's life with his older brother Terence McKenna, including growing up in Colorado and exploring the Amazon for hallucinogenic plants.



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If you heard about Terence McKenna, you probably know how weird, and inspiring, his ideas were. If you know Terence McKenna well enough, you also know who Dennis McKenna is and how instrumental Dennis was in Terence’s life. If you know a bit about Terence’s self-proclaimed biography, his experiments at La Chorrera, his predictions and how incredibly weird the whole experience was to Terence and Dennis, you probably want to know a bit more about it from a different perspective.

So this is it. This is that new perspective onto Terence’s life and thought. Well written, engaging at times (for all lives have those meh moments that look like filling-ins to a major thrust of the whole story), and providing new insights onto how McKenna deal with his normal life, relations, and people around him.

If you’re a Terence McKenna’s buff, you won’t be disappointed to read this biography. If you don’t know who he is, you better start elsewhere — probably by Terence’s own works and, more importantly, by his talks (most of them available for free on youtube). ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |

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.
( )
1 vote AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
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