Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of the new edition of the book that started it all, Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, with a new foreword by me. It will be published later this year by Penguin Random House, who are also publishing my introduction to Wilson’s life and work, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. Needless to say it was an honour for me to write the foreword, as it was to write my forewords to Wilson’s brilliant phenomenological novels The Mind Parasites and The God of Labyrinth. Last year I was asked to write an Introduction to Gurdjieff’s classic spiritual adventure story, Meetings With Remarkable Men. I count myself lucky to be able to introduce these important works in the evolution of consciousness to a new generation of readers.
Here’s a link to a recent interview I did with Gordon White at his excellent website RuneSoup. Gordon did his homework and our talk covered a great deal of ground. We focused on my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World but our conversation ranged far and wide with much in between. Check it out when you can and be sure to listen to some of Gordon’s other chats.
I’ll be on the BBC Radio 3 program Free Thinking Tuesday, January 26, 22:00 – 22:45, talking about the Elizabethan magician and inventor Dr. John Dee and his relationship with his scryer, the dubious Edward Kelley. I’m not sure how available the broadcast is outside the UK, but I think you should be able to get it. I’ll be speaking with my friend Kevin Jackson, author of Mayflower: A Voyage From Hell. Kevin is a fine cultural critic and a staunch devotee of Dr. Dee. The segment is only a few minutes so if you blink you’ll miss it.
Here’s a link to a recent interview I did with Aaron Cheak for the Jean Gebser Society. Gebser is one of the most important philosophers of the last century, and as you most likely know, I write about him in several of my books: A Secret History of Consciousness, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, Revolutionaries of the Soul and my most recent book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World. The theme of the interview is the link between western philosophy and esotericism, but as you’ll see we cover a lot of ground, from my first introduction to these ideas to my latest approach to them. Aaron Cheak has done some very interesting work on Gebser, digging into his biography and associations with people like the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, and he is currently translating more of Gebser’s work into English. I will certainly be happy to see this, as Gebser is so far under-translated and we can use as much of him as we can get.
I have to share this warm and encouraging endorsement of my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World from the veteran esoteric historian Joscelyn Godwin. Joscelyn is the author of numerous very readable, thoroughly researched and intellectually stimulating books on a variety of esoteric topics, from The Theosophical Enlightenment and Arktos: The Polar Myth to Music, Mysticism, and Magic and my own favorite, The Golden Thread. We have corresponded over the years and Joscelyn’s advice has always been helpful. Many thanks for this generous appraisal!
Of all the surveys of the Western Esoteric Tradition, this is the most readable. Like a Colin Wilson for the new century, Gary Lachman has universal curiosity and a generosity towards every character, on many of whom he has already written books. He believes in the vital importance of the subject, but thankfully does not play favorites, nor impose an academic theory. His guiding thread through the tangle of teachings is the holistic consciousness that was once the human birthright. Those familiar with this field will enjoy a fresh-minded walk through it; those new to it may be spurred to a lifetime’s quest. –Joscelyn Godwin
With All Respect
By 1981 I had fallen into a dark crowd. I was no longer interested in the rock scene but had no other social connections and found myself wondering why I was in the Mudd Club at 4:00 am with enough stimulants in me to make Aleister Crowley proud, blathering to people I cared nothing about, and taking home women whose names I’ve forgotten, if I ever knew them. Not a golden age. Boredom, lack of purpose, and the souless drift made up a few months of my mid-twenties. I was not making music, was spending money, and lacked true friends. Yet Colin Wilson appeared once again. At a party at David Bowie’s loft in mid-town, the king held court, discoursing on all and sundry. The occult came up as a topic; Bowie had predelictions in that area. He went on about witchcraft and an acquaintance mentioned that I knew all about this stuff: I read Colin Wilson.
“Colin Wilson?” Ziggy Stardust said. “Yes. He goes around at night and traces pentagrams on people’s doorsteps.” Was he joking? “Yes, he draws down the ectoplasm of dead Nazis and fashions homunculi.”
Bowie was a skinny, shivery man and he may just have remembered that not too long ago during a brief flame up of our past passion, Lulu and I conversed with him at the Mudd Club. He asked her back to his place, very gentlemanly-like. Not me. I was gratified that she passed him up, and stuck with me. Could this brief episode have stuck with him? In any case, I took him at his word and pointed out that he was wrong.
“Wilson isn’t into that sort of thing,” I said.
“Oh yes he is. I know for a fact that he heads a coven in Cornwall.”
“No. It’s true.”
“I doubt it, David.”
This carried on for a few more volleys. Then the thin white duke wearied of my obstinancy. A sight gesture of the hand and his two female body guards appeared, like Thumper and Bambi in Diamonds are Forever. “David is a bit tired now,” Thumper said. “Perhaps it’s time you left,” added Bambi. Perhaps it was.