May 10th, 2008


Another new-age memoir ...

This is a book that I got via the "early reviewers" program, which, while being a lovely concept, typically runs to 90% fiction (which I don't, as a rule, read), making the pickings rather slim for what I might request. I mention this because, under "free range" conditions, I would have been quite unlikely to have read Mark Borax's 2012: Crossing the Bridge to the Future, although being reasonably well-read on the whole "2012" subject.

However, this book has, remarkably, very little specifically to do with the events of 2012, and is, rather, one of those frequently-tedious "personal journey" books that every newager seems to have inside of them, itching to pupate out into its particular narcissistic splendor (heck, Borax notes he's written twenty books, this being the first one to be published). As is typical of the genre, there is a lot more about what the author was feeling rather than what he was doing, so it's a bit hard to really nail things down in this. The book starts with him taking an old (still living with) girlfriend and his new girlfriend up to Mount Shasta to drop acid on the Harmonic Convergence back in 1987 (hey, I was down at Tulum with a Shaman and a Zen Roshi!). He runs off and has a "transformational" trip, while the two gals scream at each other ... both soon fade from the story line (only to be replaced by others, whose relationship dynamics are all the same, but still spun out in exhibitionistic detail), but not before one of them hooks him up with an astrologer. This is William Lonsdale, who Borax latches onto as "a teacher". Borax, who has been doing some sort of itinerant comic book editing up till this point in his life, decides that he really really wants to be an astrologer too, and so begins his association with what he refers to as a "mystery school".

I was interested to find that when, before starting the book, I asked friends who are professional astrologers, neither had ever heard of Borax or Lonsdale, and certainly not of any "mystery school" being led by the latter. The deeper I got into the book, the more I found that the "mystery school" was a bit like the newage habit of calling five friends getting together in a coffee shop "a conference", as this "school" was more of an open meeting that Lonsdale was using to "bounce his ideas off people" over a relatively brief period rather than any organized project.

The 2012 title comes from Lonsdale talking about a "transformative period" between the Harmonic Convergence in 1987 and whatever "2012" event may be down the road, with almost nothing specific to the date. What is really aggravating here is the presumption that the book "says something" about 2012, yet the narrative stops in 1994 after simply covering the author's experiences over a 7-year period. Did it take him 14 years to "shop the manuscript"? This might have made an interesting "studying with the wizard in the woods" book back in the mid-90's, but it makes no sense coming out a scant 4 years before the 2012 date, when anybody reading it would know that most of what is intimated for that 25-year period in the "teachings" outlined in the text ended up to be pure hooey.

Frankly, the surface-level "take away" from this book is so frustratingly pointless that it suggests that this is one of those "look for what seems out of place" projects (to use the awesome Peter Murphy lyric), a book so blatantly off-target that it only serves as a matrix holding a few gems. And, much like The Celestine Prophesy (which, to anybody who had spent time in Peru was "so wrong", yet had nuggets of very advanced teachings in it), this is a slurry of pig manure from which one needs to sieve out the diamonds. Interestingly, one of the "shiny bits" in this is shared with The Celestine Prophesy in terms of reincarnation theory. Oh, yeah. Lonsdale's teachings are rooted in "Atlantis" ... almost a sure sign it's time to get the sieve ... and every time the teaching seem to be making sense it rotates back to somebody or another having been a high-mucketymuck with awesome powers there. Interestingly, one of the possible "gems" deals with Jesus. Now, readers familiar with my writing know that I have no use for the Christian mythos, but Lonsdale posits a very interesting "spiritual dynamic" for Jesus' role in the long-term spiritual development of the race ... that the function of the Christian passion play was to nail (yes, Jesus-as-carpenter trumps Jesus as metaphysical entity) spirit within matter, producing a modality in which working amid the "mundane world" is still a spiritual exercise. There are others (perhaps as many as a dozen) buried in there, but they take a lot of "rinsing off" twaddle-rich text to find.

As a basic read, 2012: Crossing the Bridge to the Future probably would only deeply appeal to people within a 50-mile radius of San Francisco (it really is that woo-woo), but if you can stomach the narcissism, there are some very potentially useful concepts, perceptions, and "transmissions" (ala Crowley's "Tzaddi is not the Star") to be fished out of it. As this is brand new (it officially came out in February), it should be available via your local brick-and-mortar book merchant, but it also can be had for about 1/3rd off of cover via Amazon.

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Despite having five storage boxes full of unread books around here, I was hitting that "I don't have anything to read" whining zone (most days are not the right day to plow into the 800 pages of "Godel, Escher, Bach" or even the 400-some pages of "The Turning Omnibus" - for instances drawn from recent searches through the boxes), so I did something that I almost never do ... I went out to the book store.

As frequent readers know, I buy most of my books on-line, so going out to an actual bookstore is a daunting experience of actually having the books present, which can be as awkward as going to a cocktail party full of folks you've only met on IRC. However, the Barnes & Noble up the street was having a 75% clearance sale on one table, which featured a lot of their publications (which have cover prices about 1/3 of what a comparable book from another publisher would be), so I got 4 new hardbacks and 1 new large-format paperback for between $2.00 and $2.50 each ... with tax the total for all 5 books came to $12.24 ... that's even better than getting a new/used book from one of the Amazon vendors for 1¢ and having to add on the $3.99 shipping!

Go me ... this was exactly the sort of deal that I was hoping to hit.

I've even started two of them (well, one just getting through the introductory material so that I can jump into Chapter 1 on the subway come Monday), so you'll no doubt be hearing more details soon.

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