PASSAGES ABOUT EARTH: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture by William Irwin Thompson
Kirkus Star

PASSAGES ABOUT EARTH: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture

Email this review


Those who found Thompson's At the Edge of History (1971) to be an apocalyptic, utterly dizzying excursion into myth, science fiction and the coming post-industrial ""planetary civilization"" will seize avidly on this -- the second installment of the author's futurist prophesies. Two years later Thompson has become more, not less, of a Blakean visionary and there will certainly be critics who berate him for having this time gone over the edge of Western rationalism deep into the mystical and the occult. It will come as no surprise that Thompson has in the interim abandoned Academia, a decision which he explains at length in what is surely the most incisive indictment we have yet read of the university as an intellectual ""slum"" and modern ""Youth Reservation."" The past two years have been devoted to a pilgrimage around the earth as Thompson bears down on the question ""What is a non-polluting, non-Faustian, non-growth Western culture going to look like?"" And where will it come from? Surely not from ""American think-tank banalities"" -- hence the peregrinations, geographic and intellectual, from Paolo Soleri and the Cosanti Foundation in Arizona, to Aurelio Peccei and the Club of Rome, to the marriage of German science and Tantric Yoga in C. F. von Weizsacker's Research Foundation for Eastern Wisdom and Western Science, and finally to Britain where the ancient Celtic monastery at Lindisfarne and the utopian Scottish colony of Findhorn provide him with intimations of the coming Pythagorean civilization based on a reunion of technology and religion -- soon to replace the perishing era of natural science and materialism. In his wanderings Thompson encounters virtually every contemporary guru from Yogi Gopi Krishna to Werner Heisenberg, Ivan Illich, Teilhard de Chardin and McLuhan, and incorporates stunning critiques of their world views and non-solutions to the social disintegration of contemporary society. None of this is easy traveling and some of it is candidly off the wall. But then Thompson is writing about nothing less than the quantum leaps in human culture, light years ahead of his erstwhile academic colleagues.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1974
Publisher: Harper & Row