Apparently The Sorcerer of Bolinas Reef received some awful reviews when it came out. You have to assume the giant load of turd that critics dumped on this autobiography was mostly backlash for author Charles Reich's previous effort, although Sorcerer does work hard to annoy readers on its own.
Reich in 1970 had written a manifesto for "the new consciousness" called The Greening of America.Topics for a compare and contrast essay It wasn't "green" in the way the term is used today (to insists that a reshaped plastic bottle is saving the planet). Reich's greening included "ecology" but was more about a revolutionary newness, an evolution of culture, led by free-thinkers and hippies, into a third stage of consciousness based on individuality and personal expression. "Consciousness I" had been honest farming and real work and the wonder of discovery. "Consciousness II" was the dehumanizing organizational structure of 20th-century Corporate America, where everyone became a lonely, unfulfilled working drone. But a revolution was building -- "Consciousness III" -- a nonviolent revolution of freedom and music and good drugs that was poised to transform society, just by letting people do their thing. It was deeply dippy and naive, things that were popular at the time. It also captured what was happening in a formal way that hadn't been done so thoroughly before. Greening became a loved and hated bestseller.
In today's publishing world, there would be relentless sequels and spin-offs like "The Greening of You!" Instead, Reich's sophomore effort was a tell-all memoir. In it, he personalizes his grandiose arguments by showing his own life moving from childhood innocence to soul-crushing organizational restraint to new freedom and revelation.
Unlike most memoirs, this starts with dire analyses of "we" as society: "Faced with an increasingly hostile world...we resign ourselves to being unhappy, powerless, alone, and unable to change...the walls of the prison are not made of metal or concrete, they are barriers to awareness." But, he writes, there's a way out of the rut: a journey toward self-knowledge.
So here we go: Reich did well in law school, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, and in 1956 joined a high-powered Washington law firm. Soon he felt its dehumanizing effect. "When the day at the office ended, I drove home to my apartment house, I stepped out of the elevator at the eighth floor, and walked swiftly down the modernistic, carpeted corridor past a long line of identical doors...the first thing that greeted me was a feeling of personal emptiness." (and more carpeting?)
Reich's lawyer-work left him numb. He'd also been a closeted homosexual and had difficulty with relationships. This was not a happy camper. It becomes evident that Greening was inspired by his own life. Then he moves to San Francisco and discovers himself, and everything changes. His transformation is interspersed with large chunks of overblown prose that swirl political philosophy with self-help, like: "Self-oppression is merely a more advanced form of tyranny than totalitarianism."
A little injection of ideas like this, once in a while, isn't a bad thing. But this is a heavy dose, man. Are you ready for it -- ready to experience wonder and magic and love?