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A Psychonaut's Guide To The Invisible Landscape
by Dan Carpenter
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2006 
ISBN:
1594770905 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by David Arnson, 7/8/2007

Notes (Trip Four): (Into a tape recorder.)
I’m flying over a scene that looks like an elaborate model train set. Amazing…What it is is a dream landscape. It’s a three-dimensional scene of every dream that I’ve ever had.

I can at this point remember /see every dream I’ve ever had. Now I’m drifting down into it.…It’s like a costume warehouse. Like the inside cover of the Allman Brothers’ Eat a Peach album.. People, animals, archetypes, childhood monsters…they’re all here! And this is not a memory, but a place. Everything still happening—alive—a living hologram. Maybe Freud wasn’t so wrong…

The years 2003 and 2004 found author Dan Carpenter embarking on a series of thirteen psychedelic journeys, all transcribed in great and always intriguing detail. I have to admit that when I found out that the substance involved was DXM, I was a bit put off. My initial reaction to this substance was to recall images from author Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, where he describes riding the New York subways in a cough-syrup-induced stupor. However, I found Carpenter’s experiences soberly and well articulated, and frequently insightful.

The author gives fair warning on the usage of DXM, and it seems his source is pure powder, as opposed to cough syrup. He describes his process of carefully measuring out doses beforehand, and drinking them at timed intervals through his “journeys”. His writing took place during and after these sessions.

What emerges from these trips is an absolutely engaging exploration of the workings, “machinery”, and inner landscape(s) of the mind. Each time his journeys begin the same way, as he floats through an area of “living taffy clouds”, comes to a “great wall”, and enters a huge hive-like area, populated by various floating machine-like organisms. These observations bear a remarkable similarity to Carlos Castaneda’s description of the “realm of inorganic beings” in the excellent book, The Art of Dreaming. This is not lost on the author, although he describes the beings as not having the same predatory nature that Castaneda describes.

Each of Carpenter’s chapters contains numerous descriptions of encounters with what seems to be an internal ecology of the mind. If nothing else, even if you take Carpenter’s writing with a grain or even a boulder of salt, this makes for some very interesting reading on at least a science-fiction level, like some DXM remix of Flatland or A Voyage to Arcturus. You will read about “The Dream Chamber”, “Ego Vortices”, “Crab Faced Others”, “Plasma Flowers”, and the like, as well as iboga-like encounters with ancestors. Holy Lovecraft, Batman! However, part of what makes the book so readable is that the writing is tempered with the earnestness and insightfulness of a seemingly very compassionate soul. Carpenter is also well versed in the work of inner space pioneers such as McKenna, Strassman, Narby et al., along with world religions and spiritualities.

Despite its very singular adherence to one “exploratory substance”, I consider this book to be an essential addition to one’s psychedelic library. Terence McKenna often spoke of “mapping hyperspace”, and this is one great map. I’ve read this book several times over now and just don’t get tired of it.

On a final note, I found on the net that Carpenter had chosen either Psychedelic Passageways or The Psychedelic Explorer as the book’s original title. Inner Traditions, the publisher, chose this perhaps less apropos title after Carpenter’s death in 2005. Shine on, Dan.


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