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I Think, Therefore Who Am I?

por Peter Weissman

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
9629285,496 (4.44)104
The philosopher Rene Descartes declared, "I think, therefore I am." But who is this I that thought posits? In anecdotal style, the narrator of this nonfiction novel relates an odyssey of discovery and confusion, catalyzed by psychedelic drugs, over a year's time: the hippie era of 1967. With humor and passion he tells a story of wrestling with meaning and his own identity. Each chapter is a self-contained story, discrete links in a plotline propelled by epiphanies and vanities, from "Before Almost Everything Changed" and his "Czechoslovak Awakening," with its two fateful capsules, to his "Dark Night of the Soul" and beyond. He explores life as myth, witnesses the solution to the paradoxical mystery of waves and particles, ruminates on the difference between truth and fact, and experiences a sense of liberation that gradually becomes something else. He delves into chivalrous love, a child's anticipation of the adult world, the tao of momentary observation; sees a miracle, loses himself in the crowded crash pads of Haight-Ashbury, seeks answers in astrology and infatuation, wrestles with the capriciousness of his myriad selves, and forty years later, looking back, figures a few things out.… (mais)
  1. 20
    Be Not Content: A Subterranean Journal por William J. Craddock (ashleybessbrown)
    ashleybessbrown: An equally excellent evocation of maniacally accelerated personal evolution through repeated death-rebirth amidst a carousel of mythological characters - lovers, dealers, hustlers, sages, good-hearted and less so, or as Craddock puts it (I paraphrase) "an acidhead amongst a tribe of acidheads". Good luck finding a copy though- they're scarce! But try your best regardless.… (mais)
  2. 20
    The Fan Man por William Kotzwinkle (Utilizador anónimo)
    Utilizador anónimo: Same time and place, both narrators influenced by drugs, often with humorous results, though the memoir is a more serious work.
  3. 20
    Trainspotting por Irvine Welsh (slickdpdx)
  4. 10
    The Hypocrisy of Disco: A Memoir por Clane Hayward (sanddancer)
  5. 10
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test por Tom Wolfe (orlando85)
    orlando85: This book goes inside the LSD drug world, by someone who actually experienced it. It goes well with Wolfe, who talks about that world as a journalist.
  6. 10
    Digging Deeper - A Memoir Of The Seventies por Peter Weissman (clarabel)
    clarabel: Digging Deeper begins where this book ends. It delves into the results, if you will, of the author's psychedelic memoir, as well as his "rehabilitation," as he ironically labels it, into society. An original, personal history of the 1970s.
  7. 00
    Permanent Obscurity: Or, A Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death by Dolores Santana por Richard Perez (PghDragonMan)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 30 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Found the following Itailan review for the italian version of the author's book. Since it;s a translation, it reads a bit funkily, yet nevertheless captures the book's strengths:

Some fabulous eras, such as the one that saw the birth of the hippie movement at the end of the sixties, seem strangely alive even in those who for personal reasons have never lived them. Maybe that's why "I think, so who am I?" it has been welcomed in the United States with enthusiasm by readers of several generations, and appreciated above all for its ability to make the vitality and contradictions of a year that became part of history: 1967, out of every cliché. Weissman's writing, supported from an out of the ordinary visual memory, it creates a unique effect, making the facts narrated at the same time precise and distant, alive in an unattainable past: wandering the streets of New York, surreal and involuntarily comic dialogues with the companions of " trip ", the initial hopes and the failure of the municipality, the Summer of Love in San Francisco. These "Memoirs of a psychedelic year" are the result of an elaboration lasting thirty years: it took so long to purify the odyssey of experiences from all forms of mythology, to make it alive and tinge it with irony. And finally leave room only for the doubts evoked in the title: I Think, Therefore Who Am I? ( )
  megazena | Jan 28, 2020 |
Weissmans novel has got some rave reviews on Librarything and as an evocation of the life of a two bit drug dealer and user in New York then it would seem to be both accurate and insightful. However by choosing to write this as an autobiographical novel he is putting himself (His younger self) in the spotlight. The young Peter Weissman comes from a middle class family, a college boy who is in no danger from the Vietnam draft. He questions his parents cultural values and drops out of college. He is fortunate to find himself dropping out at a time when a lively counter culture movement is in existence and he dabbles in the protest movement, not it appears from any great conviction to change the world but because others are doing similar things. He discovers drugs then freely available to a middle class boy with change in his pockets and soon gets sucked in to the drug culture. He becomes alienated from non drug users and embraces the world of looking for the next high, which is the real meaning of life for a self absorbed perhaps susceptible addictive personality.

The sixties counter culture was a time of tremendous energy especially in the arts, and in the protest movements, but it was also a time of burgeoning consumerism and drugs were very much part of it. For Peter Weissman and his associates the energy and excitement of making new things happen passed them by, as they sink into a drug induced torpor. (Hell they could not get off their backsides to change an LP when it got stuck). Peter would have been one of those people that you would go out of your way to avoid, boring, rambling completely lost in their own space. He soon becomes a dealer in drugs very much at the street level, but he never stops to think about the harm he may do to others, his only thought is getting enough money to score. He would have the reader believe that he is a good natured “regular Joe” who finds himself struggling to survive in a world of high powered drug dealers and petty thieves. Well maybe.

For readers who lived during those heady years of the late 1960’s, and were into the youth/counter culture, Weissman’s book brings back memories. The realism is gripping even if that realism is seen through the prism of mind altering drugs. I immediately became absorbed in his book, but it goes on too long. As a document about getting it together until the next score it is spot on, but following Peter from one crash pad to another is like reliving too many afternoons in Notting Hill Gate. There is an afterword written probably in 2006 in which Peter reflects on possible sitings of characters he knew in 1967 and his book ends with thoughts about Artie who he may have seen in South Carolina and he wonders if he was gay, as he sees him with an older man, Peter wishes him happy but says “I moved up the street without a backward glance”. Without a backward glance seems typical of the man, whose younger uncaring self has overtones of misogyny and racism. I think the book could have done with a few backward glances.

Peters book is very well written with some memorable descriptive writing. A document of his times, which seems to be painfully honest. There are plenty of novelists who use their own life experiences as subject matter for their novels, but Peter Weissman chooses to make himself the subject of his novel. You need to be pretty much up your own arse to write in this way and this is what I did not like about the book, so an ungenerous 3.5 stars from me. ( )
3 vote baswood | Oct 30, 2016 |
“You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
-Preludes by T.S. Eliot

The struggle for identity, the search for meaning in life, is universal and timeless. What changes is the backdrop against which the journey is painted.

1967 – American youth are in revolt against the world of their parents, the generation who fought World War II and returned to prosperity and order. Whether real or a forced delusion, the naïveté of the 1950’s has eroded – sex and drug use and militant non-conformity have forced their way into the light of day. And into this vacuum of cultural and individual identity strolls Peter, ambling down the alphabet avenues in search of meaning, identity, and another dose of LSD.

Peter is the hero, or anti-hero perhaps, of [I Think, Therefore Who Am I?], subtitled Memoir of a Psychedelic Year. He spends the year 1967 hanging out in various pads in New York, consuming various narcotics, and discussing the meaning of it all with his peers. While it may sound like not a lot happens, the book is driven by Peter’s obsessive, self-critical search to figure out his place in the world. That he believes dosing LSD will call down revelation and clarity seems just another symptom of a larger search among a generation set adrift by the destruction of all the conventions of identity established by the generations that preceded them.

The malaise is probably best-described by Peter’s oldest friend, Mark, as he debates about the value of tripping, “What bothers me is, what if a person changes because they get high all the time, and your friends, let’s say – and you’re your family – no longer think the way you do? You see what I mean? It’s not the different opinions that bother me – well, it’s not just that – but what if whatever connects us to the people we know disappears? What then?” The problem facing Mark and Peter and all of their friends was that, LSD or not, all of those things that had connected them up to that point in time were disappearing, were changing for all time, before their very eyes. For me, Peter’s pursuit of LSD, and a great deal of other experiences, was a journey that has been repeated millions of times over the centuries, just with different tools. Indeed, beyond drugs, Peter dabbles in Buddhism, political and social protest, religion, astrology, philosophy, communal living, love and relationships, and even in old friendships. All the time, he is searching for an identity in a world shifting under his feet. Finally, in his last bad trip, in a cold sweat, amid auditory hallucinations, Peter begins to understand his fear, not just of dying but of perishing, being wiped from the face of the earth without memory – like the lonely man who had died in the apartment he was renting, only discovered when the stench penetrated the walls.

What uncovered this book’s undertones for me was a recent reading of W. Somerset Maugham’s classic [Of Human Bondage]. Maugham’s hero, Philip, searches for meaning in religion, art, labor, pleasure, and relationships before finally calculating that “the simplest pattern, that in which a man was born, worked, married, had children, and died, was likewise the most perfect.” Similarly, Peter, during his final bad trip, argues with himself over a life he never led but imagined, happily married and domestic with a full refrigerator and a closet stocked with blankets. The parallels between the two books, the two heroes obsessively searching for meaning and identity, were startling, especially when I learned that Weissman had never read Maugham’s book. Though set in drastically different times and cultures, both of these stories give beautiful voice to a universal experience.

Beyond the fine story-telling, Weissman’s prose is smart and melodic. He is the kind of author who can repeatedly use words that send you to the shelves for a dictionary but never make you feel like he is showing off. The vivid descriptions that break Peter’s ambling and contemplation masterfully root the account in time and place. But ultimately what makes Weissman’s account of his psychedelic year so readable is his ability to recount his tumultuous inner life with such honesty. Let’s face it, not many of us have lived that life – but all of us have experienced his doubt and his yearning.

Bottom Line: A psychedelic memoir, but really a memoir that mirrors a universal search for meaning and identity.
4 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
15 vote blackdogbooks | Mar 16, 2013 |
I couldn't put this down. ( )
  orlando85 | Dec 31, 2011 |
It has been said that if you remember the sixties, you weren’t there. Peter Weissman was apparently there and remembers the time well. I Think, Therefore Who Am I?, is not quite the cautionary tale Richard Perez weaves in Perrmanent Obscurity nor the homage to the gateway to Nirvana Huxley extols in Doors of Perception, but more like capsules of psychedelia that when read that when read blossom in the reader's mind into vignettes of what the times were like.

Told through a gritty narrative style, Weissman’s book strips away the popular glamorization of the drug culture of the 1960’s to show it was actually pretty ordinary. For most people, it was a survival game, getting by and getting high. Along the way, some people gained did indeed get their lives turned inside out and grew form the experience, but for most it was just a phase.

The dialog is what will keep you reading through the book. It is very easy to visualize the characters and their situation trough the words exchanged. Weissman adds just enough description to fill out the scenes and as a result, everything has a hazy night time feel to it. Very fitting for the subject.

Overall, I’m going four stars for this work. If you’re wanting a real look at the ‘60’s this is it. ( )
8 vote PghDragonMan | Dec 25, 2011 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 30 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Five stars. Made my day.
 
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The philosopher Rene Descartes declared, "I think, therefore I am." But who is this I that thought posits? In anecdotal style, the narrator of this nonfiction novel relates an odyssey of discovery and confusion, catalyzed by psychedelic drugs, over a year's time: the hippie era of 1967. With humor and passion he tells a story of wrestling with meaning and his own identity. Each chapter is a self-contained story, discrete links in a plotline propelled by epiphanies and vanities, from "Before Almost Everything Changed" and his "Czechoslovak Awakening," with its two fateful capsules, to his "Dark Night of the Soul" and beyond. He explores life as myth, witnesses the solution to the paradoxical mystery of waves and particles, ruminates on the difference between truth and fact, and experiences a sense of liberation that gradually becomes something else. He delves into chivalrous love, a child's anticipation of the adult world, the tao of momentary observation; sees a miracle, loses himself in the crowded crash pads of Haight-Ashbury, seeks answers in astrology and infatuation, wrestles with the capriciousness of his myriad selves, and forty years later, looking back, figures a few things out.

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