Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (2002), 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (2006), and Notes from the Edge Times(2010), as well as co-founder of Reality Sandwich and founder of the think tank Center for Planetary Culture, which runs the Regenerative Society Wiki. Post-modernism and New Age nonsense, all rolled up nicely in pseudointellectual deepity, and fluffy, pink word salads, has established Pinchbeck as an important figure in the New Age Movement.
In Breaking Open the Head, he goes through various shamanistic practices and their use of psychedelics and how using psychedelics is a road to insight, which he mixes with the lunatic ramblings of Rudolf Steiner. The central idea is apparently that shamanic and mystical views of reality, the ones you can access by using psychedelics, provide genuine insights into Truths because wishful thinking, and that the dull and grey reality described by those in “pursuit of rational materialism” under the curse of Enlightenment restrictions like evidence and reason forfeits understanding of intuitive aspects of being. The follow-up, 2012, was (presumably deliberately) even less constrained by reality, reason, accuracy or evidence; basically, Pinchbeck starts off from Hopi and Mayan prophecies and follows his intuitions. Everything is heavily indebted to Terence McKenna’s claim that humanity is experiencing an accelerated process of global consciousness transformation (a metaphor, of course, and one that is predictably never cashed out) and the laughable psi research of Dean Radin, crop circles and the work of calendar reform advocate José Argüelles. Apparently it all supports the prophetic visions Pinchbeck has received from Quetzalcoatl, which has something to do with 2012, so there. Apparently Quetzalcoatl began speaking to Pinchbeck during a 2004 trip to the Amazon in Brazil featuring plenty of psychedelics. 2012, meanwhile, came and passed without ushering in the New Age.
In fact, Pinchbeck must be held partially responsible for popularizing 2012 nonsense in the New Age movement, where the rambling attempts at connecting crop circles, alien abduction and drug-use-as-a-means-to-channel-gods-that-non-drug-users-couldn’t-possibly-achieve-or-understand was guaranteed a receptive audience.
His How Soon Is Now?(2017) argues that ecological crises are rites of passage or initiation for humanity collectively, and appropriately addressed by reaching “the next level of our consciousness” as a species, which is a dumb suggestion. Later the same year the metoo movement finally caught up with him (he promptly blamed his predatory behavior on women; “I was never breastfed and believe that left me feeling lacking and desperately craving some essential connection to women,” said Pinchbeck), but it really oughtn’t have been necessary to marginalize his nonsense.
Diagnosis: It is worth emphasizing the sheer arrogance and narcissism of those who think their intuitions, wishful thinking and explorations of their imaginations are guides to truth and sufficient reason to dismiss the work of the generations on whose shoulders privileged nincompoops like Pinchbeck stand. Hopefully neutralized, but we realize that his audience will probably just move on to the next peddler of inane nonsense to pop up.