If the words ‘spiritual revolution’ don’t inspire confidence, perhaps the knowledge that both Sting and Russell Brand have endorsed this book’s contents will reassure. It begins with the author’s memories of the 2005 Burning Man Festival in Nevada, during which he entered ‘a state of messianic megalomania’ from which one might reasonably wonder whether he’s yet emerged. His plan was to write a planetary constitution and trigger a great leap forwards into a world of ecological and social justice, a transition he anticipated occurring in synch with the 5,125-year cycle of the Mayan calendar. We have, he feels, subconsciously willed ourselves into imminent planetary catastrophe in order to force ourselves to make a decision: change or die. The danger is that we’ll reach a tipping point before we’re ready, and our ecosystem will collapse more quickly than our ability to react.
That danger seems real enough, and indeed, Pinchbeck’s analysis of our global problems, from corporate greed to chronic water shortages, is rooted in reality. Some readers, though, may find his solution – that ‘we need to reconnect with a sacred, transcendent dimension’ – lacking in substance. One reason for this, perhaps, is that Pinchbeck was forced to watch the Watergate hearings at the tender age of five, an ordeal which set the tone for his future disengagement from real-world politics. Fair enough, though most of us question the positions our five-year-old selves took. But then, in 15 years of reviewing for Geographical, I’ve rarely encountered a book in which the personal pronoun occurs so often. This is as much about the various states of Daniel Pinchbeck as it is about that of the world: he’s often optimistic, sometimes disappointed, full of theories, and yes, his heart’s in the right place. But I wouldn’t want to be trapped in a lift with him.
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