Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

Author: Jeremy Narby

First line: The first time an Ashaninca man told me that he had learned the medicinal properties of plants by drinking a hallucinogenic brew, I thought he was joking.

Why you should read this book: After drinking the hallucinogenic ayahuasca as a young grad student learning from indigenous peoples in South America in the 80s, Narby spent years coming to grips with the meaning of his visions, and more importantly, with the shamanic tradition providing detailed, effective medico-biologic knowledge that can't be explained by Western thought, although it can be exploited by Western pharmaceutical companies. A long-term inquiry into the roots of anthropology, biology, neurology, mythology, and other diverse fields leads him to the intuitive jump that DNA, the source of all life, is capable of both sending and receiving information, and certain chemicals occurring naturally within the brain as well as within the forest, allow the human mind to perceive these communications and view reality without the distorting focal lens of science. Narby's journey is both personal and well-documented (for 162 pages of text, 60 pages of footnotes and 20 pages of bibliography) and, while he acknowledges that objective science can neither confirm nor deny his hypothesis, his book is a wonderful drawing together of ancient and modern world traditions seeking to demonstrate the cosmic connections among all life and environments on this world or any other.

Why you shouldn't read this book: If it transcends quantitative analysis, you don't see how it can have meaning, value, or validity.

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