An Interview with Daniel Pinchbeck

Fri Nov 12 10, The Agony Column

(Rick Kleffel)

“…corrupt left-wing intelligentsia … baby-boomer parasites who have been feeding off the fat of the land…”

Daniel Pinchbeck

Yes, the two clips quoted above did come from different parts of the conversation. And yes, I may well resemble one, the other or both. (Though I’d dispute any membership in the intelligentsia, I would certainly claim to be proud member of the corrupt left wing.) My parasitic days are far from over. But as for the fat of the land, well, even Pinchbeck himself will tell you that things are looking pretty thin out there.

I’ll unlatch my mandibles from the bloodstream of the parasitocracy long enough to tell listeners that I am, on occasion, prone to be the victim of my own peculiarities. So, while 9 AM sounds like the crack o’ dawn to most normal humans, hell, by then I’ve been up for five and a half hours. This proves to be helpful if your interview is at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning in San Francisco, a two-hour drive for me. But others look at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning and see it as a time to make sure the curtains are firmly closed.

I met videographer Charles Kruger in the lobby of Pinchbeck’s hotel, then tortured myself for 15 minutes trying to find a parking space that wouldn’t cost me fifteen bucks for two hours — but was shockingly successful. I found Pinchbeck in Starbuck’s (he had kindly offered to buy me coffee), then the three of us trooped up to Pinchbeck’s room for a chat.

It was an interesting experience. I could feel the palpable pressure and tension that Pinchbeck feels with regards to his work. On one hand, he knows in his heart he has to get his social network and website rolling. He is a man of action. But he clearly feels as well that his readers want him to write, that indeed, he wants to write, his next major work of synthesis and exploration. Even as we spoke, you could feel the ideas welling up within him. He’s especially interested these days in aliens and Egypt — and aliens in ancient Egypt.

While I walked away from the interview disappointed in myself — Rick Kleffel, corrupt parasite — upon editing the material, I found that in spite of the early hour, or perhaps because of it, Pinchbeck was in fine Pinchbeckian form. We had a great conversation about his work, and better still, listeners will hear a very unique portrait, Pinchbeck in transition, at the tipping point. He’s the canary in the coal mine. You can hear our conversation by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

In addition to interviews, Rick reviews books. Below is what he had to say about Notes from the Edge Times:

Essays as Actions

The notion of “edge times” is not new. It seems that almost every generation feels — with good reason — that the last days are upon them. Whether it is in the introduction of language, the printing press, electricity, the automobile or the atom bomb — there is always something new that is bringing the tipping point closer.

That said, things look pretty dire. From global warming to the economic meltdown, we do seem to be between a fire and a hot place. Back in 2006, Daniel Pinchbeck crystallized a lot of thoughts and synthesized a lot of disparate perspectives with his book ‘2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.’ Now he’s back with a collection of essays, ‘Notes from the Edge Times’ (Tarcher / Penguin ; October 14, 2010 ; $23.95). It works as either an adjunct or an introduction to Pinchbeck’s work in ‘2012.’ And on its own, it’s a breezy, thought-provoking series of essays as actions.

From the introduction onward, Pinchbeck takes writing itself as an action, a means of getting us from one place to another. The pieces, which appeared mostly in either Conscious Choice Magazine or on Pinchbeck’s Reality Sandwich website cover a gamut of topics, but have the perfect through-line. That would be the ever-questing voice of Daniel Pinchbeck.

Pinchbeck is clearly a man at the cross-roads, and not just one in his personal life — though that is certainly true — but as well, Pinchbeck seems to have found the perfect place to view our current cultural cross-roads as well. He’s a synthesist of ideas, a prose pollinator. Whether he’s talking about the work of Gerald Heard or Rob Hopkins’ Transition Town movement, Pinchbeck has a knack for capturing a unique essence, a single pixel of thought that readers will quickly plug into the bigger picture.

The topics of Pinchbeck’s essays are happily all over the map. You get the New Gnosticism, some old spirits, a variety of perspectives on the global economic meltdown, and some single essays that act as a binding agent for the ideas in the book, like “Nonviolent Action as Spiritual Practice.” Pinchbeck’s unique voice and vision suffuse the narratives.

The smaller bigger picture here is the portrait of an author in transition. Having created a genuine sensation with ‘2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl,’ Pinchbeck finds himself presented with an implacable deadline in the title of his own work. Moreover, he is clearly a genuine polymath investigator, a man who seeks to find the unity amidst a world descending into chaos. The staccato nature of these essays suggests that Pinchbeck is planting seeds not just in the readers’ minds, but in his own as well. There’s a palpable tension here as the bigger ideas that loom outside of this book — many of them in ‘2012,’ others in Reality Sandwich, still others in his Evolver network, others still, nascent in these essays — coalesce into Pinchbeck’s next work.

But whether you view it as unbundled footnotes to ‘2012,’ thirty-three introductions to ‘2012’ or a collection of mind-bending mini-rants, ‘Notes from the Edge Times’ is consistently good reading. It doesn’t hurt that Tarcher has done an excellent job printing and publishing them in a very easy-on-the-eyes book. That’s probably necessary, since Daniel Pinchbeck is as likely as any author out there to induce hallucinations with mere words. Pace yourself as you read, and when the letters start crawling across the page, take a look at the world around you. Chances are it’s going to look rather different than it did when you first picked up the book.


Stay tuned for more enlightening interviews and book reviews from Rick Kleffel over at The Agony Column. Next up is Matt Taibbi—and it’s a good one.