Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

Allegro’s mushroom

February 10, 2012

My latest effort is about 100 pages of critical analysis of John Allegro’s book The Magic Mushroom and the Cross, a work that fascinated my husband Philip K. Dick, and which formed the basis for a large part of his Exegesis.

Here’s an excerpt:

My husband Philip K. Dick became obsessed with John M. Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, which was first published in 1970, then disappeared amid a storm of controversy and was finally reissued in 2009, more than 20 years after Allegro’s death at age 65 in 1988. The thesis of Allegro’s book is that Christianity had its origin in a cult of mushroom eaters who told the fictional story of Jesus to disguise their recipes for vision-inducing drugs. He goes on to assert that early Christianity was simply one of many fertility cults in the ancient Middle East.

Allegro was part of the original team that worked on the Dead Sea scrolls, until his refusal to fall in line with the orthodox interpretation of the scrolls led the team leader to publicly attack his work and eventually replace him. Any scholar who disagreed with the official “truth” was ridiculed or ignored by the small team of scholars (numbering about half a dozen) who jealously guarded their treasure. For example, the team agreed that the scrolls had been written, and then hidden in caves, by a small Jewish sect known as Essenes, even though a number of scholars have found reason support the idea that the scrolls belonged to observant Jews. The scrolls might even have been secretly removed from the temple at Jerusalem shortly before the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Golb, pages 143 and 145-146).

Since only a handful of scholars had access to the scrolls, and they refused to allow other scholars to see them – or even to look at photographs of them – the orthodox interpretation faced few serious challenges until the Huntington Library began making microfilm copies of the scrolls available to all qualified scholars in 1991. Before that time, the team publicly and viciously attacked any scholar who disagreed with their party line.

Soon after the release of the microfilm, Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise rushed their book into print, in which they translated and discussed fifty fragments that they considered important. The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered first saw print in 1992 from Elements Books Limited, and was reprinted by Barnes & Noble in 1994. One of those fragments appears to be a recipe for a magic potion (page 265). “An Amulet Formula Against Evil Spirits” (4Q560) presents a formula of the type that is condemned in the Old Testament and in Apocryphal literature such as the Book of Tobit and the Book of Enoch; moreover,

Josephus considered the magicians, imposters and religious frauds (among whom he would clearly include some of the “prophets and teachers” pictured in Acts) more dangerous even than the revolutionaries. (page 265)

This fragment was not available to Allegro, who died before the Huntington Library released their scrolls collection. He might have made a great deal of the text of this fragment, which describes a ritual of exorcism. In fact, he most likely would have found the name of the sacred mushroom, Amanita muscaria, hidden within the words of the text.
My husband Philip K. Dick became obsessed with John M. Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, which was first published in 1970, then disappeared amid a storm of controversy and was finally reissued in 2009, more than 20 years after Allegro’s death at age 65 in 1988. The thesis of Allegro’s book is that Christianity had its origin in a cult of mushroom eaters who told the fictional story of Jesus to disguise their recipes for vision-inducing drugs. He goes on to assert that early Christianity was simply one of many fertility cults in the ancient Middle East.

Allegro was part of the original team that worked on the Dead Sea scrolls, until his refusal to fall in line with the orthodox interpretation of the scrolls led the team leader to publicly attack his work and eventually replace him. Any scholar who disagreed with the official “truth” was ridiculed or ignored by the small team of scholars (numbering about half a dozen) who jealously guarded their treasure. For example, the team agreed that the scrolls had been written, and then hidden in caves, by a small Jewish sect known as Essenes, even though a number of scholars have found reason support the idea that the scrolls belonged to observant Jews. The scrolls might even have been secretly removed from the temple at Jerusalem shortly before the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Golb, pages 143 and 145-146).

Since only a handful of scholars had access to the scrolls, and they refused to allow other scholars to see them – or even to look at photographs of them – the orthodox interpretation faced few serious challenges until the Huntington Library began making microfilm copies of the scrolls available to all qualified scholars in 1991. Before that time, the team publicly and viciously attacked any scholar who disagreed with their party line.

Soon after the release of the microfilm, Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise rushed their book into print, in which they translated and discussed fifty fragments that they considered important. The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered first saw print in 1992 from Elements Books Limited, and was reprinted by Barnes & Noble in 1994. One of those fragments appears to be a recipe for a magic potion (page 265). “An Amulet Formula Against Evil Spirits” (4Q560) presents a formula of the type that is condemned in the Old Testament and in Apocryphal literature such as the Book of Tobit and the Book of Enoch; moreover,

Josephus considered the magicians, imposters and religious frauds (among whom he would clearly include some of the “prophets and teachers” pictured in Acts) more dangerous even than the revolutionaries. (page 265)

This fragment was not available to Allegro, who died before the Huntington Library released their scrolls collection. He might have made a great deal of the text of this fragment, which describes a ritual of exorcism. In fact, he most likely would have found the name of the sacred mushroom, Amanita muscaria, hidden within the words of the text.

The entire work is available from Amazon Kindle, and with their free software downloads at Amazon, you can read it on a Mac, PC, smart phone or even on a Kindle!

http://www.amazon.com/Allegros-Mushroom-ebook/dp/B0070PV8QI/ref=sr_1_20?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328910583&sr=1-20

Book Review – Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer

August 4, 2011

Book Review: Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer
being the story of a regular guy
who learns how to animate and command the dead
a death-comedy novel by
George Dalphin

Narrated by an extra-dimensional alien, this novel presents a post-Bob world in which a new religion has taken hold, despite the best efforts of Bob to avoid such an outcome. The opening sentence of Chapter 1 reminds me of Snoopy’s novel, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Not a good omen. I question the metaphor, “merely a cardboard cutout of the sun behind the clouds” as an unlikely sight.

Somehow it reminds me of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not that the plot is similar, because it isn’t, but because it has that same tongue-in-cheek humor that you often find in British literature.

Bob’s girlfriend Anna breaks up with him because he has never grown up, depends on her for money and even for a working shower and is, in short, a man-child. This inauspicious opening leads to Bob’s discovery of the secret of life – or more properly, the key to reversing death.

Armed with an ancient book that only he can read, Bob sets out to put his own life in order. He has no plans for the rest of the world, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer is fun to read, despite some awkward phrases and clumsy sentence constructions. The story will take you far into the depths of your own mind and then back again to the everyday world which we call reality.

On a scale of one to five, I give it four stars.

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Available on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Wacszowski-Necromancer-George-Dalphin/dp/1460998170/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312145217&sr=1-1

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This review can also be seen on my blog:

http://tessadick.blogspot.com

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