Pearce, Joseph Chilton 1926–

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PEARCE, Joseph Chilton 1926–

PERSONAL: Born January 14, 1926, in Pineville, KY; son of John E. and Susie (Leslie) Pearce; married (wife died); remarried, 1977; children (first marriage) four, (second marriage) daughter. Ethnicity: "WASP." Education: College of William and Mary, B.A.; Indiana University, M.A. Religion: "Nominal Christian." Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.

ADDRESSES: Home—599 Rainbow Ridge, Faber, VA 22938. Agent—Barbara Deal Literary Associates, Santa Barbara, CA. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and lecturer, 1963–. Taught humanities in colleges until 1963. Guest lecturer at Harvard University, the University of California, Oxford University, Columbia University, and Stanford University; speaker at the seventh annual Transpersonal Psychology conference, Bombay, India; lecturer on education in Japan; speaker in Hawaii and Louisiana. Addressed two special legislative planning sessions on children and families in California, at the invitation of the governor. Member of scientific advisory board, Institute of HeartMath, Boulder Creek, CA (brain research center), Monroe Institute, and Encompass. Military service: U.S. Army Air Corps; served during World War II.

WRITINGS:

The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality, Julian Press (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted, 1988.

Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Split Minds and Meta-Realities, Julian Press (New York, NY), 1974.

Magical Child: Rediscovering Nature's Plan for Our Children, Dutton (New York, NY), 1977.

The Bond of Power, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981, published as Spiritual Initiation and the Breakthrough of Consciouness: The Bond of Power, Park Street Press (Rochester, VT), 2003.

Magical Child Matures, Dutton (New York, NY), 1985.

Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1992.

(With George Jaidar) The Soul: An Owners' Manual, Discovering the Life of Fullness, Literary Associates, 1995.

(Author of foreword) Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Waking Up to Personal and Global Transformation, afterword by Neale Donald Walsch, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1999.

The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Park Street Press (Rochester, NY), 2002.

(With Michael Mendizza) Magical Parent, Magical Child: The Art of Joyful Parenting, North Atlantic Books (Berkeley, CA), 2004.

Recordings include The Magical Child, The Art of Dying—An Overview, Free Fall and Death, and The Complete Guide to Understanding Childhood. Consultant editor, Wonder Child: Rediscovering the Magical World of Innocence and Joy within Ourselves and Our Children, by Peter Lorie.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Another book.

SIDELIGHTS: Joseph Chilton Pearce is a lecturer and author whose controversial writings focus on human consciousness issues and the reclamation of traditional practices of birthing and child rearing. Among his many books are his primary work, 1971's The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality, as well as The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, a 2002 work that Library Bookwatch contributor Diane C. Donovan described as "an intriguing survey of intellect and biology."

In an interview with Virginia Birthing Freedom online contributor Bob Keeton, Pearce noted that medical technological childbirth "is without doubt the most destructive single thing the human species has yet concocted to try to destroy itself." Pearce cited the far higher mortality rate for hospital births as compared to home births, and noted: "The immune system, which is passed on to the infant immediately, we thought was entirely having to do with the colostrum…. We find that it's vastly more than that. It has to do with the heart/brain connection as well."

In his first major work, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Pearce draws on the ideas of Carl Jung, Jerome Bruner, Teilhard de Chardin, Michael Polanyi, William Blake, and Carlos Castaneda, figures in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, medicine, and mysticism. He devines the term "cosmic egg" as "the sum total of our notions of what the world is, notions which define what reality can be for us." Pearce proposes that man can escape from his shell through the crack in the egg. "For him Christianity in any shape or form is already dead," said a Times Literary Supplement reviewer. Allan Angoff, writing in Library Journal, praised the bibliography as a guide to the work "of the most influential modern thinkers." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called The Crack in the Cosmic Egg "caviar to most readers, raw intellectual meat to others," and said the book is "important … in a rare genre."

Pearce expanded his thoughts in Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Split Minds and Meta-Realities, explaining that humans begin the crack which is the means of escape through something called "body knowing." A Publishers Weekly reviewer said that in addition to probing the nature of reality and consciousness, he condemns "Western values, from parents and politicians to Pentagon." Writing in Library Journal, Angoff called this "a phenomenon apparently below the threshold of awareness" and added that, like Crack in the Cosmic Egg, this book is "difficult … but stimulating and provocative."

In his controversial Magical Child: Rediscovering Nature's Plan for Our Children Pearce opposes established practices of child-rearing and education. He feels that television, daycare, and other childhood settings isolate children from their parents, preventing bonding. Pearce also integrates the fantasy world of children and compares the brain to a hologram, "reflecting within it the picture or workings of the whole life system." A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "an exasperating overwrite, righteous at the expense of reason, fuzzy at the expense of clarity, and at times dangerous, in the sense that a little learning is." More accepting of Pearce's premise, Library Journal reviewer Robert S. McCully called the book "profound, readable … [and] exciting." A Publishers Weekly reviewer described Magical Child as "an innovative, philosophical restructuring of modern child psychology."

Pearce extends his theories as applied to adolescents and young adults in Magical Child Matures. D. A. Davis wrote in Choice that the thesis is "that natural human potentials are thwarted by modern obstetrical and educational practices." Davis felt that on the subject of adolescent development, however, Pearce ignores the views of Adelson, Blos, Erikson, and Anna Freud. "To the author, culture equals technology, bombs, aggressions, sex, neurosis … a familiar litany that damns it all as materialist and behaviorist," wrote a Kirkus Reviews reviewer. David Toolan opined in Commonweal that Magical Child Matures reflects the twenty-first-century "convergence of Eastern and Western spirituality."

The Bond of Power describes Pearce's conversion under Swami Muktananda, as well as its author's views on modern Western culture. "Pearce forages from Australian Dream-Time to various mind/body disciplines," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "When he sticks to autobiography … the book is a not-discreditable addition to the confessional/inspirational literature," a Kirkus Reviews noted, "but when Pearce makes sweeping generalizations about culture … we are in a no-man's-land of questionable statistics and theory." Floyd Shiery, Jr., wrote in Library Journal that, in spite of "occasional polemic excesses, this book admirably extends the territory Pearce has explored in previous books."

In Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence Pearce expresses the idea that most American children are neurologically damaged, in part due to medical interventions during childbirth, absence of breastfeeding, circumcision performed without anesthesia, and other causes. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that in comparison to Pearce's other books, this one is "more rigorous and demanding … his controversial tract makes many sweeping claims likely to prompt skepticism." A writer for Kirkus Reviews dubbed the book's thesis "Neo-Luddite/New Age pop apocalypticism," and wrote that much of the content is covered in other books by the author, "reshuffled, but adding up to the same old message: that we make the world that we inhabit … that modern living is mucking it up." Writing for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Chris Goodrich maintained that Pearce supports his views of the underuse and misuse of the mind with "poorly understood, often 'paranormal' phenomena." While Goodrich described the text as "turgid, jargon-filled," he added: "you can't help closing this book without thinking that he's onto something."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Pearce, Joseph Chilton, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality, Julian Press (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted, 1988.

PERIODICALS

America, April 10, 1982, p. 285.

Best Sellers, August, 1977, p. 145; September, 1985, p. 221.

Booklist, May 15, 1991, p. 1827.

Book Report, November, 1986, p. 36.

Choice, December, 1985, p. 669.

Christian Century, May 18, 1977, p. 478.

Commonweal, February 14, 1986, p. 88.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1977, p. 267; April 15, 1981, p. 556; May 15, 1985, p. 473; August 15, 1992, p. 1045.

Library Bookwatch, January, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, review of The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit.

Library Journal, June 15, 1971, p. 2093; December 1, 1974, p. 3138; May 15, 1977, p. 1194; April 15, 1981, p. 889; June 1, 1985, p. 133; June 15, 1991, p. 124; October 15, 1992, p. 85.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 20, 1992, p. 6.

New Age, winter, 1995, p. 30.

Parabola, February, 1993, p. 114; August, 1993, p. 93.

Psychology Today, May, 1975, p. 14; June, 1977, p. 102; July, 1981, p. 86.

Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1971, p. 141; September 30, 1974, p. 56; October 13, 1975, p. 113; February 14, 1977, p. 78; April 24, 1981, p. 66; May 10, 1985, p. 218; September 21, 1992, p. 86.

Times Literary Supplement, September 7, 1973, p. 1034.

Whole Earth Review, summer, 1994, p. 80.

ONLINE

Virginia Birthing Freedom Web site, http://www.usit.com/brthrite/@home/pearce.htm (1998).