The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 30 June 2000

Food of the Gods

The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge
A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution

by Terence McKenna

In this "radical history", McKenna (who died of brain cancer in April 2000) paints a portrait of a humankind that evolved into consciousness with the help of psychadelic drugs. The shamanic traditions and his self-experiments had him convinced that hallucinogenic experience gave rise to a symbiotic relationship between the human and plant world, and an Edenic "partnership" society, feminine in character and now long lost. Many times in this book, this reader found himself shaking his head at incredible leaps of logic McKenna made to prove a historical and often political point. His whole thesis rests on the presumption that cattle-raising cultures must have encountered a psychadelic coprophilic mushroom now extinct in the old world. He then makes leaps of reasoning that prop his theory that mankind can only attain its true potential by returning to shamanistic uses of these drugs, his favorite being DMT. While his theories of historical drug use are intriguing, and are indeed a much neglected phenomena in social evolution, the book leaves one demanding further explanation of his assumptions. The final pages of the book are a psychadelic manifesto for his "Archaic Revival". The supression of drug use is one of the worst pathologies of our society, but this book preaches to the converted.

[Mail John][To List]