About Gary Lachman

I am the author of more than a dozen books on the meeting ground between consciousness, culture, and the western inner tradition:

The Caretakers of the Cosmos: Living Responsibly in an Unfinished World (Floris 2013)

Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality (Tarcher/Penguin 2012)

Swedenborg: An Introduction to his Life and Ideas (Tarcher/Penguin 2012)

The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus From Ancient Egypt to The Modern World  (Floris 2011)

Jung The Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings (Tarcher/Penguin 2010)

The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind (new, revised and expanded 2nd edition Dedalus 2010)

Into the Interior: Discovering Swedenborg (2nd edition Swedenborg Society 2009)

Politics and the Occult: The Right, the Left, and the Radically Unseen (Quest Books 2008)

The Dedalus Book of Literary Suicides: Dead Letters (Dedalus 2008)

Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work (Tarcher/Penguin 2007)

In Search of P.D. Ouspensky: The Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff (2nd edition Quest Books 2006)

The Dedalus Occult Reader: The Garden of Hermetic Dreams (Dedalus 2005)

A Dark Muse: The Dedalus Book of the Occult (Dedalus 2003)

A Secret History of Consciousness (Lindisfarne 2003)

As Gary Valentine I was a founding member of the pop group Blondie and I recount my memoirs of that time in

New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation with Blondie, Iggy Pop, and Others 1974-1981 (2nd edition Thunders Mouth Press 2006)

I wrote the groups’ first single “X-Offender” and my song “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” was a top 10 hit in the UK and Europe. In 1978 as Gary Valentine, I released a single “The First One,” and from ’78 to 1980 fronted my own group, The Know, who in 1980 relased a single “I Like Girls” with Planet Records. In 1981 I was a guitarist for Iggy Pop on two North American tours. In 1996-97 I took part in the Blondie reunion, performing at festivals and recording. In 1998-2000 I fronted a second group, Fire Escape, and in 2003 released a CD Tomorrow Belongs to You containing unreleased early recordings with the Know as well as material from my time with Fire Escape. In 2006, despite all my efforts, I was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame.

Since 1996, I have lived in London where I am a full time writer, contributing to the Fortean Times, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Gnosis, Mojo, EnlightenNext, Lapis, Sunday Times and other journals in the UK and US. I lecture regularly in London and abroad, am a frequent guest on BBC Radio 3 and 4, have appeared in several television documentaries on the history of the counterculture, and my work has been translated into German, French, Czech, Russian, Italian, Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish.

Along with my books and journalism, which has included interviewing figures like Owen Barfield, Kathleen Raine, Antoine Faivre, and Colin Wilson, I have contributed to several anthologies including:

Inner Knowing ed. Helen Palmer (Tarcher/Penguin 1998)

Book of Lies ed. Richard Metzger (Disinformation 2003)

The Inner West ed. Jay Kinney (Tarcher/Penguin 2004)

Punk: The Whole Story (Dorling Kindersley 2006)

Between Method and Madness: Essays on Swedenborg and Literature ed. Stephen McNeilly (Swedenborg Society 2005)

The Arms of Morpheus; Essays on Swedenborg and Mysticism ed. Stephen McNeilly (Swedenborg Society 2007)

I have also written a foreword to a new edition of Colin Wilson’s novel The Mind Parasites (Monkfish 2005), edited and written an afterword to Valery Bruisov’s novel The Fiery Angel (Dedalus 2005), and am a regular contributor to Strange Attractor Journal. I have written two voulmes in the Pauper’s Press Colin Wilson Studies series and contributed a long essay on the work of the avant garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger to the British Film Institute’s 2009 box set DVD release of Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle.

Recently I contributed an audio guide to an exhibition on Secret Societies held at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany.  The exhibition is on from June to November 2011, when it will move to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux. Here you can listen to the guide – in German – and find out more about the exhibition. The exhibition’s catalogue, to which I’ve contributed two essays, is available here.

123 Responses to “About Gary Lachman”

  1. Perhaps copyright is a problem, but could you include those interviews on your site ? Or maybe link them. I really enjoyed the interview with Owen Barfield, which I read a while back,…. I’d be very interested in having a look at the Kathleen Raine one; think I’ll have a search for it now…

      • Gary, it’s good to discover your work in the pages of Watkins magazinge (where there’s also a review of my book: Artist as Mystic). Always heartening to find someone facing the same general direction and challenging us to rise to our greater responsibilities. Further, I see we both share an admiration for Colin Wilson, who was kind enough to review a book of mine: http://thehumanities.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.61/prod.24

        If you like, I should be happy to share my work wih you, if you would drop me a line at Lababidi.ink@gmail.com

        Thank you, and wishing you continued success,
        Yahia

      • Hello Yahia,

        Many thanks for this. Yes, Watkins is a good place to meet. I’ll check out your review as soon as I get my copy back – a friend borrowed it. And of course I’m always glad to meet another Colin Wilson reader. All the really interesting and intelligent people read his books, don’t you think? Best, Gary

  2. Axel Thomas Says:

    Hi Gary, you say “In 1996-97 I took part in the Blondie reunion, performing at festivals and recording”. Are there any photos of this period with you and Blondie? Cheers, Axel

    • Hello Axel. There is a video floating around of Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, Chris’ ex-girl friend Orla (sic) and myself performing Harry Niilson’s “Everybody’s Talking At Me” at a tribute to William Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas in 1996. There’s also a photo of Blondie performing at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. in 1997, with me on guitar, in a book called Blondie: From Punk to Present. But I wouldn’t get the book just for the photo… If there are any other shots I’d be curious to see them. All the best, Gary

  3. Filipe Tolhuizen Says:

    Hi Gary. First of all I’d like to say that I’m glad to be able to reach you. Lately I’ve really been into your song “Presence Dear”. It has a “Whoish” feel, like it came from Tommy, but that’s my opinion, of course (and I love that kind of rock). What were your main musical influences at the time you composed for Blondie? I have a great friend (actually he’s my best) who is determined to live only by his music. I help him by playing bass and additional guitars and vocals. As an experienced musician what would you recommend him? He also has some Ramones influences like the early Blondie. He also found your song “X-Offender” very Ramonish and liked it. Did you actually played the guitar track or just played on the video? My friend is always very interested in reading past experiences related to music, specially from musicians that left their mark. Your books about music seem to have great stories, sure he’s gonna enjoy (and the ones related to ocultism as well). Do you plan of having your work also translated to portuguese?
    Best regards,
    Filipe

    • Dear Filipe,

      Many thanks for your message, and I’m glad you like the song. The biggest musical influence on me was listening to AM radio as a kid in the 1960s, when I would hear one great song after another. That, combined with the simple rock style of bands like the New York Dolls, led to my writing songs – I started out writing poetry but thankfully this soon changed… YI was completely self-taught, very much DIY. Yes, I play guitar on “X-Offender,” and also on another Blondie tune of mine, “Scenery.” It was supposed to be on the first album but was left out and later appeared on a CD called “Blonde and Beyond.” Success in music usually requires sacrifice, persistence, and luck, and generally a lot of it. Sadly, my book about Blondie and CBGB etc hasn’t been translated into any foreign language yet, but one book on the occult has been translated into Portuguese: Politica Ocidental A Historia Secreta Da,and my book on Jung (Jung the Mystic) will be translated into Portuguese as well. All the best, Gary

      • Filipe Tolhuizen Says:

        Thank you so much for your kind reply. I won’t be having problems reading in english and neither would my friend, but some other people I’m recommending your work might. Are there videos from while you were with the reunited Blondie in 96-97? I’m curious how you played their later songs. I’ve seen Nigel performing the early songs but I’ve never seen you performing the later ones. I noticed you two have completely different techniques. I’m just wondering how to get along with different musical styles as a bassist. You had a remarkably nice stage presence on the videoclips as well…

      • I don’t know of any videos from my brief re-union with Blondie in 1996-97, but there is one of myself, Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, and Chris’ then girlfriend (whose name I’ve unforgivably forgotten), performing at a tribute to William Burroughs, in Lawrence, Kansas, in November 1996. I don’t know who has it – I have a VHS copy somewhere stuffed away with other debris. Also performing were Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and a clutch of other pop/art notables. We do a rather strange version of Harry Nillson’s “Everybody’s Talking At Me”. In any case, when I worked with Blondie again, I played guitar, not bass. As to style, I have no idea, although I think I did play the bass more like a guitar. All the best

  4. Hi Gary,
    I don’t see an email address anywhere, so I’m placing this question here.
    Having been an anthropop for a few years, your biography on Steiner came as a real breath of fresh air. I hope your volume encourages more to explore the wonders of anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner’s work from a more balanced perspective. I tried to track down your Gnosis article ‘RUDOLF STEINER AND THE FATE OF THE EARTH’ here in Canada through interlibrary loan and there are no Canadian locations. Would you be in a position to make that article available?
    Thanks kindly,
    Jeff

  5. MAy I ask how to pronunce your last name? Is it Lakhman? Or closer to Lockman? The reason is I am trying to figure out if a translation had it correct. Thanks.

  6. Dear Gary,

    Thank you for your reply. I am referrring to the Russian translation of your book about P.D. Ouspensky:
    http://www.mdk-arbat.ru/bookcard?book_id=710174

    You name is shown as Лахман that sounds in Russian approximately as Lakhman. So, there was a discussion in our forum regarding this. I like the book, by the way! A very balanced view of the great man

    • Thank you for this. I had no idea the book was translated into Russian – and I don’t think my publisher knew either. I’m glad you enjoyed it. By the way, I’m working on a book about Madame Blavatsky at the moment, another great Russian. All the best, Gary

  7. Donal O'siodhachain Says:

    Hi Gary, have you seen this ?

    http://www.realitysandwich.com/wormholes_our_dna

  8. Many thanks Tony, although I’m not sure we’re going to hell in a handbasket just yet…

  9. Christian Daw Says:

    Dear Gary,
    I’m not sure if you will get this message. I work at a school in London where we have a Ficino Society, Am really enjoying your book on Hermes, would be great to welcome you to the school!
    Christian

    • Dear Christian,
      Many thanks for your message, and I’m very glad you’re enjoying the book. Tell me more about your Ficino Society; I’d be happy to give a talk about the book. All the best, Gary

  10. Dear Gary

    It is so good for us to have you as our Wise Owl and whilst on this subject I am wondering what your views are on the fact that Blavatsky, when describing the various stages post death a human soul travels through perfectly (in my view) correlates with significant scientific research and first-hand testimonials currently collated regarding NDE’s. I am thinking here, in particular, of the NDE provided by a Harvard-trained Prof of Neuroscience who suffered a 7-day coma brought about by acute bacterial meningitis and reported a vivid hyper reality based NDE with clinical precision as per his background training. Further, there is the work conducted by Hameroff on quantum consciousness and all of this perfectly aligns with what Blavatsky and the Seth Material et al told us yonks ago. Any comments? If we scrutinized this matter in a Court of Law under the eagle eye of jurisprudence what do you think the conclusion would be? Many thanks for your scholarly insights. Best. M

    • Dear Madelyn,

      Many thanks for your comment. The NDE you report sounds absolutely fascinating. Can you give more details? Who was the scientist involved and where can I read more about it? I think you would be interested in a book coming out soon by a friend, Ptloemy Tompkins, The Modern Book of the Dead (Atria Books 2012), which goes into great detail about various ‘after life’ accounts, and brings them together to form a contemporary ‘book of the dead’. I’m sure HPB knew things that scientists are just bumping up against today. Sadly, many who do won’t understand them, or will try to ‘explain’ them in materialist terms. And yes, you’re right that if similar evidence as provided by HPB and others about the afterlife was presented in a court of law, the chances are it would be considered practically irrefutable. I am just about to start a review of another fascinating book, The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist, about how our left-brain dominant culture ensures that any ‘evidence’ for the kind of experiences you are talking about will be ‘explained’ in terms that reduces it to mere ‘matter in motion’ or the like. I can’t recommend this book too highly. You might also be interested in the work of Anthony Peake, although his take is a bit more ‘scientific’. All the best and happy 2012.

      • Dear Gary

        Many thanks for your considered response and I will most certainly read the books indicated. Unfortunately, my son passed away end of August from cancer and needless to say I am utterly determined to seek out the truth of where he may be.

        The case I referenced in my previous reply can be found on :-www.lifebeyonddeath.com – a Dr Eben Alexander – neuro scientist, which gives us added weight I believe to the survival issue.

        Your work gives me strength and will provide for humanity a source of knowledge that is genuine in order to help decipher fact from fiction.

        We need, however, to ensure that our search is based on sound judgment and, as you say, irrefutable facts. Also, whilst on the subject, it occurred to me – with the 100 or so trillion neurons residing in the brain – this vast degree of complexity no doubt has led to the diverse subjects pursued by Jung which, prima fascia, may all be indicative of one inter cranial complexity so the ‘bridge building’ exercise must continue in order to appreciate the big picture with ever greater clarity.

        I am wishing you a most enjoyable 2012 … from the heart.

        Madelyn

  11. sorry for error … Dr Eben Alexander’s web address is:
    http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net

    • Dear Madelyn,

      I’m sorry to hear our your loss. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child, although that has happened to some good friends of mine recently. My your quest bring you some comfort. Best, Gary

  12. Daniel Sheehan Says:

    Dear Madelyn,

    my sincere sympathy for your loss and I wish you every encoragement on your quest.

    Unfortunately I am at that age where I have experienced the deaths of many children of friends, one remarkable daughter of a school friend took over her dying and death process and actually prepared her own parents. It was both unnerving and amazing to see that child prepare her own parents for her death process and it profoundly moved all who knew of it.

    I have already posted some NDE acount experiences here and if I can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact me.

    May I also sound a note of warning: while there are a lot of sincere people out there who will give you every possible assistance, there are also unfortunately more than a few who see the oppertunity for commerce in this area. In your search, if you confine your exchanges to those who are willing to help you completely without financial reward or other obligation, you will save yourself additional pain and grief arising from your loss.

  13. Madelyn Freeman Says:

    Dear Daniel – very much appreciate the strength of your response. I, too, want the truth to emerge. Too much deception, profiting therefrom and fraudulent activity. I have a project in mind. Perhaps you could contact me direct to discuss. Madelynfreemanster@gmail.com.

  14. Hi Gary,

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve only just learned of your work, which I’m now avidly looking forward to reading. I enjoyed your blog post “2013: Or, What to Do When the Apocalypse Doesn’t Arrive” and wanted to reciprocate with a link to one I posted recently:

    What You Should Know About 2012: Answers to 13 Questions
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reality-check/201112/what-you-should-know-about-2012-answers-13-questions

    I’d like very much to correspond with you on common interests.

    Best wishes,

    John

  15. margarita quevedo Says:

    Hi, I would like to send you a private work done about ouspensky, can you give me an e- mail address please?

  16. Gary:

    I’m a young-ish (30) writer, just turning pro and I wanted to say that I loved both “Turn Off Your Mind” and “New York Rocker.” If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles again I would very much like it if our paths could cross.

    Regards,
    Nicholas Pell

    • Dear Nicholas, Many thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you liked the books. If I know I’ll be heading to LA for a talk, I’ll let you know. By the way, if you haven’t already, you might check out the LA Review of Books. My good friend Lisa Jane Persky is an editor there. All the best, Gary

      • I’ll drop her a line, thanks. If you’re ever bored enough, this is probably the best thing I ever wrote. Best thing that got published, anyway:

        life.salon.com/2011/11/20/diary_of_a_porn_store_clerk/singleton

        xN

  17. Gary, I thought you might like to see my front page story out of San Diego on how I found a lost sacred pattern in an accidental photo I took in 1990 of 10 daylight UFOs that I successfully linked to other UFOs as well as ancient artifacts and the Nazca Lines in Peru. Google my name or “Inaja UFO Photo”

  18. jpfulton314 Says:

    The Quest for Hermes Trismegistius was a tremendous piece of writing and I can’t wait for the book on Swedenborg. The website http://www.theosophy.net has made your writings, along with those of Antoine Faivre and W.J. Hanegraaff highly recommended reading. We have re-framed the site from one of the dreary multitude of Blavatsky-centered entities into something much more in line with the general esoteric stream of thought.

    I am especially intrigued by how you managed to integrate neuroscience into the understanding of “states” as described in the Hermetic works and by others such as Goethe and Ouspensky (nice touch on the ashtray).

    I was turned on to your writings by K. Paul Johnson, a good friend and fellow spiritual traveler. He recommended your work quite highly.

    I recently purchased the books on Steiner, Politics of the Occult, Turn Off Your Mind, and just pre-ordered the new book on Swedenborg.

    Thanks for being an inspiration and best wishes.

    • Many thanks for your warm remarks. I’ve checked out theosophy.net quite a few times recently, while researching my book on HPB, which will be out in the US in October. I was very impressed with the quality of the material on the site. I’m a big fan of K. Paul Johnson’s work, and speak positively about it in the book. I think he’s done a much needed and highly
      commendable job of putting HPB and theosophy back on the cultural map, making her even more interesting than she already was, and opening up new areas of esoteric history. I’ve also followed the online debates about his work with much interest, and hope my own effort can add to the renewed interest in HPB and her work. All the best, Gary

  19. jpfulton314 Says:

    What drove us away from HPB was not her work but the absolute silliness of many of her followers. One cannot have a decent public conversation about Blavatsky’s theosophy without being invaded by legions of people talking about their personal relationship with HPB’s masters or ferociously attacking you for not totally believing in her work or even asking rational questions. It’s a constant mantra, “no Blavatsky, no theosophy”. Nonetheless to say, we reject that notion.

    If we could find a way that Blavatsky could be approached without all of the insanity we would happily do so. Until that point is reached, perhaps it is for people like you and Paul to carry the torch. When we do get back to examining HPB’s work, perhaps the lens of Faivre and others will be a good starting point.

    Of course we are always open to suggestion.

    • Well I’m certainly not a ‘follower’, and I know what you mean about the ‘baggage’ that often comes with spiritual teachers – I’ve had to deal with some of it myself in my books about Steiner, Ouspensky, and Swedenborg. In my book on Blavatsky theosophy is less in focus than is HPB herself. She is a remarkable character, whatever you think of theosophy and whatever you think of her. Sadly, so many cliches and half-truths have gathered around her (some of them of her own making) that I had to do some demolition work in order to get to her, insofar as I was able to. I try to place her and her milieu in the context of the history of ideas, and also to tell her roller coaster like story as clearly and as entertainingly as possible. I imagine true believers might not appreciated my conclusions, but I would hope they recognize that I take her and her influence very seriously.

  20. Hello, Gary:

    I discovered an article you wrote for the Fortean Times in 2000 called “The Process”. You discussed Robert DeGrimston and his wife, Mary Ann. At the end of the article you mentioned a rumor about Mary Ann starting an occult bookshop in Toledo, Ohio in the late 1970s, using the name Circe. I attended college in Toledo in 1973, and the Circe bookshop was in existence then and in close proximity to my campus. The shop was in the lower level of a large two-story home. A friend and I went to the shop several times to buy incense and candles. I saw Circe during one of my visits, and she had a scorpion painted on her face. I assumed it was there because her astrological sign was Scorpio. Various websites list Mary Ann DeGrimston’s birthdate as November 20, making her a Scorpio also. On one of our visits we knocked at the door of the shop, which customers were required to do before they were allowed entry. This time a man answered the door. He was quite tall and rather creepy, with dark hair and a beard and moustache. We asked if the shop was open, and he said in a very expressionless voice, “obviously not.” I thought he sounded British, and in your article you mentioned that DeGrimston was tall and English. Your article has me wondering if Circe and the tall, mysterious man at the door could have been the DeGrimstons.

  21. John Hoopes Says:

    Is this a photo of Robert DeGrimson and Mary Tyler Moore? This article cites Adam Gorightly to provide some additional details. It suggests that the “Circe” shop in Toledo closed in 1985.
    http://irrationalgeographic.wordpress.com/tag/robert-degrimston/

  22. jpfulton314 Says:

    Just wanted to let you know if you need to get to The Theosophist, The Path, and Lucifer, they are on the Resources drop-down menu. All else is as was before, except they are not on the left side of the main page.

  23. Hello,

    Your scope of writings in esoteric and occult matters looks quite large and rich. This should support a good quality standard for your next publication on Mme Blavatsky which, as all previous ones ,will be eagerly expected by the thesophical community at large (pro’s and con’s). You have probably read most of the many existing biographies already published. A good fact_oriented one was the book written by Noël Richard-Nafarre (I don’t know if it has been translated from french to english yet). In any case, I appreciate you will not be easily influenced by other people, and I will be pleased to buy you book.
    All the best.

    • Dear Jacques, many thanks for your remarks. I didn’t know of the Noel Richard-Nafarre Blavatsky biography, but as my French is execrable, it wouldn’t have helped if I had. I did draw on most of the ones in English, as well as the excellent work on HPB’s ‘masters’ by K. Paul Johnson. By the way, my biography of Rudolf Steiner is translated into French. and is published by Actes Sud. All the best, Gary

  24. Hi Gary, I met and talked with you briefly before your recent lecture on Hermes Trismegistus at The October Gallery when I referred to an alternative spelling and pronunciation of Hermes Trismegestes (as called out mysteriously in the night!).

    I am inquisitive as to whether you discern a different angle of wisdom and knowledge from the sources utilising the latter spelling: http://hermetic.com/crowley/equinox/i/x/eqi10018.html, Rabelais, Thomas Vaughan and Henry More etc. Best, Vivian

    • Hello Vivian. Many thanks for this link. I’m not familiar with a different approach to the thrice-great one through this alternative spelling. The only other spelling I’ve come across is Trismegistos, and the different vowel didn’t seem to suggest a different teaching. But I will certainly look into it. All the best, Gary

  25. Steve P Says:

    Hi Gary,

    I have been trying to get hold of a copy of your CD “Tomorrow Belongs To You.” It seems to be unavailable, apart from a few very expensive copies on Amazon. Are there any plans to re-issue it?

    Thanks

    Steve

    • Hello Steve,

      Unfortunately the CD has gone out of print, and yes, the prices being asked for it on amazon are absurd. I don’t have any plans myself to re-issue it, although I would be happy if some enterprising soul was interested in doing that. I don’t have an extra copy myself, otherwise I would send you one. There was some talk recently about putting out a vinyl recording of the Know material, but that didn’t materialize. Some of the tracks, though, are on You Tube, and there’s a Gary Valentine fan page on MySpace that has a few http://www.myspace.com/garyvalens I don’t have anything to do with the MySpace page myself; a fan put it up a while ago. All the best, Gary

  26. Hi Gary, how is it best to go about requesting you to give a talk?

    Thanks, Best, Vivian

  27. Hi Gary,

    Thoroughly enjoyed Turn Off Your Mind and The Secret History of Consciousness. The day after I finished TSHOC I came upon Henry Miller’s essay about Erich Gutkind and his book The Absolute Collective in Miller’s book The Wisdom of the Heart. If you are not already familiar with Gutkind’s work I think you may find it profitable. Unfortunately getting his book or information on him I have found isn’t easy. But the little I have found has been very intriguing from a possible/alternative consciousness angle.

    Thanks~Brian

  28. Harvey Canter Says:

    Hi Gary—
    I hope you remember me, we both used to work at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood in 1986-1988 or so. In fact, we started on the same day! I was doing my first year in Grad School for Psychology and you were studying Philosophy at Cal State LA, if I am remembering correctly. For about two years, I had no idea you had been Gary Valentine of Blondie, one of my absolute favorite bands. You were really low key about that. One day I was in the back, in the Used Books section, and I was trying to describe Chris Stein’s illness to a friend, and you chimed in with all this very precise inside info; I asked how you knew so much, and you said, “We’re old friends — I used to play in a band with him”. That was the understatement of the decade, Gary! I used to always enjoy being on shifts with you because of your intelligence and humor, and we had some good talks about Jung, too.

    The Bodhi Tree is now sadly defunct, as are 90% of the bookstores in LA–it’s a very weird time….

    So, I got my doctorate after many many years, and now work as a therapist with kids & teens, and have 2 kids of my own. You sure have written a lot of books!! I read NY Rocker awhile back and enjoyed it quite a bit. I must profess ignorance of your more scholarly writings.

    Tonight, I was cruising for some Blondie material on line and came across this link to your site, so I thought I’d say hello. I liked your line above where you said you played bass like you were playing guitar. You are way too modest, man! I wanted to tell you that your bass playing on the first Blondie album is just superb–lithe, melodic, pulsating, full of surprises–you were their best bass player by far, Gary. And — you contributed some great songs.

    I was able to find your later compilation somewhere out there in cyberspace and downloaded it in mp3. So, someone is bootlegging you and making that very cool material available.

    Hey, I remember a gig you did sometime in the later 80′s at Lhasa Club in Hollywood on Santa Monica & Hudson St., right?. A friend of mine named Dumas was on the bill and I showed up–and there you were with your band. Was that The Know or maybe Fire Escape? The songs were great and so was your bass playing. Is there a tape of that show anywhere?

    Dumas’ guitar player that night, Mark Stewart, went on as Stew to form his own band in the 90′s called The Negro Problem (check out their oeuvre!!!), and then later he carried on as a solo act, just called Stew. Clem Burke played on one of his records called The Naked Dutch Painter, don’t know if you knew that or not. A few years ago Stew won a Tony for the script of his autobiographical musical, Passing Strange. So there was lots of Mojo brewing there that night!

    Glad to see you are still exploring the mysteries of the Cosmos, Gary. Let me know if you are coming to LA at any point in time. It would be a pleasure to have a glass tea, or hear you speak somewhere.

    I apologize for the long entry but gee it’s been about 20+ years!

    Harvey Canter
    Tarzana CA

    • Hello Harvey. What a delight hearing from you. Of course I remember you. You were one of the people at the Bodhi Tree with a sense of humour – at least with one like mine (you were a fan of the Marx Bros. so that was a plus). I remember you were doing a degree. I was intending to go on and to teach philosophy. Life had other plans, but in one sense that’s exactly what I’m doing, at least with my, ahem, scholarly works. Really, they ain’t that scholarly, but they’re probably too much about ideas to ever be that popular. Thanks for the kind words about my musical career. I know a lot of people with my background would have been shouting about it from the rooftops, but I guess I have so high an opinion of myself as it is, to add an illustrious past would be just too much. I am glad you like my playing; I think I was a good bassist, although I didn’t play it as most bass players do. I remember the Lhasa Club gig. I was doing a ‘poetry performance art’ kind of thing with some friends, mostly for fun. I did play quite a bit in London in 1998-2000 with Fire Escape. I put the band together after playing with Blondie again as part of their reunion – if you read New York Rocker you know the story about that! It was fun but it’s different doing it at 40 something than at 20 something. And now that I’m 50 something it is unthinkable…

      I’ve been living in London now since 1996. When I think of how long I’ve been here, I’m amazed. It has been strange, watching events in the states, and being more concerned about the economy in Europe. I travel quite a bit, lecturing ‘on the continent’, as they say here. I’d love to bring my sons to LA, but will have to wait until some rich Californian reader of my books invites me. If I do find I am heading west, I will definitely let you know.

      My sons will be 14 and 12 this year – again, I am stunned when I realize they are on their way to their own lives. They have no interest in books and are absolutely obsessed with football (soccer to you). Go figure. But strangely, they are both budding musicians, playing violin and piano. Their mum works hard with them on this. It’s not rock and roll, but then neither is Mozart.

      It’s sad about the Bodhi. I did post some comments about it on a blog some time ago, and they turned up in an article about its demise somewhere. I certainly spent some important years there – once again, I realize I left it nearly 20 years ago. God, if you stick around long enough, you acquire a past. In any case, I am going on. Very good to hear from you and I will certainly hold you to that cup of tea (is that an English dig?) if I find myself in SoCal. Take care, Gary

  29. Harvey Canter Says:

    Hi Gary—
    I very much enjoyed your response and appreciated the catch-up on what’s been going on in your life the last couple of decades.
    “God, if you stick around long enough you acquire a past”. Great line!

    The Marx Brothers—yes, as I recall we both had memorized entire passages from their movies, which made for some great laughs while ticking books or stocking the shelves. There’s some philosophical booty buried in their work for sure! Actually, the Marx Brothers saved my life: they were what I clung onto while my parents split up, mom died, we moved to the Valley–it was a rough few years, but I traded that insanity for that of Les Freres Marx, and also the stoic calm of Humphrey Bogart–and I got through it more or less intact. I think…..Do your kids like their movies???
    My son (15 1/2) likes Harold & Kumar, Stepbrothers, Tommy Boy, Family Guy, etc. but I can’t quite get him to cotton up to Duck Soup and Horsefeathers, etc. Similarly, he is not into reading, though he likes HIstory a bit, and he is curious about my work in psychology. He is into X-box and Call of Duty…Oh well…..He does have pretty good taste in movies, and has seen Casino, American Beauty, and Full Metal Jacket about 30x each.

    My daughter, now 23, is much more of a reader and student. She graduated from Bryn Mawr last year and has been living & working in Philadelphia, just hanging out and being an adult. She loves it there. She’s a smart, wonderful, thoughtful young woman with lots of courage to be herself. She may back for grad school at some point, we’ll see.

    Hey, I ordered New York Rocker from Amazon, as it has been quite a while since reading it. I think I stood in a Barnes & Noble for a couple of hours zipping through it, but this time I am going to dig into the details….I saw the mini-debacle of the RnR Hall of Fame presentation where Frank Infante sounded off….cringe….. Where you there? I was looking for you but it seemed that the sequence was perhaps edited….Well, hey, congratulations on the great honor! Outstanding, old bean…..

    Sounds like life in London has been good to you, between the family and the writing career. Which of your more philosophical books would you recommend as a starter? Also, where would you recommend starting with Colin Wilson? I’ve looked through his books and there were about 10 that looked interesting.

    When I finished my doctorate in 1994 I was pretty burnt out on the whole academic/professional thing, and I went to work for my Dad in his rental property business for a few years, but that diversion was more or less ended by the Northridge earthquake, which took down about half of the business. I started a band up and we were pretty good, doing a mixture of Beatle-esque pop and Television-esque jamming….It was lots of fun for about 5 years, but by then I was working full-time again in mental health and much more involved with my kids—and tired of auditioning drummers!!! Yeah, rock is for the youngsters, or those with roadies! If I try to pick up a Twin Reverb these days, my back just says “NO WAY!!”

    Lastly—There was nothing sarcastic about that cup of tea, Gary! Just seemed like the right beverage at our stately point of evolution…. Thanks for writing back–your letters are always welcome.

  30. Dear Gary,

    I’m a major old-time Blondie fan from way back
    first of all, and the way I feel about it is this: if
    people discount your role in the band, than they’re
    not real Blondie fans and are grossly mis-informed,
    or either are not real fans or, are not fans of early
    Blondie, at any rate. I did some writing for Louis
    Bustamante’s old Blondie web site a number of years
    ago and reviewed new ed. of Making Tracks the
    Blondie book there in 1998. I sadly never got to see
    Blondie live since I was too young but have seen
    Debbie perform solo several times. I’m also
    a major horror/fantasy/SF fan and scholar and
    I was happy to see you being so prolific and
    putting out some books which I really now need
    to go catch up on, particularly your book on
    Trismegistus, which by the way, was a major
    basis for an immortal character in the book/film The Keep
    by F. Paul Wilson, Glaeken Trismegistus. Also
    a big Colin Wilson fan particularly from his
    Lovecraftian connections/inspired fiction like
    The Mind Parasites.
    RE: your account of the Rock and Roll Hall of
    Fame induction, I can only direct you towards
    several comments by Maureen Tucker from the
    1996 Velvet Underground induction into the Hall,
    in which she has the most unkindest and
    disturbing things to say about the experience
    and circumstances surrounding their induction,
    which immediately followed Sterling Morrison’s
    passing the year previous, and at which Moe
    claims they were treated terribly by the
    organizers and were forced to play songs
    at the ceremony, even after she railed that Sterling had
    just passed away, and she says John Cale
    was also just as angry and horrified by all
    this in private communications with her.
    I promise I’m not making this up, you can
    check her words with a few of the later
    books on the Velvets including the latest
    critical book by Rob Jovanovic. Sad stuff.
    I also find it sad how you were seemingly
    treated by the industry and/or the band
    at your induction. It’s not right, not at all
    in my humble opinion.

    Yours,
    Scott Briggs, LI NY

    • Many thanks for your remarks Scott. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame scandal was really a family affair – a dysfunctional one, to be exact. The actual Hall of Fame treated me and the other black sheep Blondies very nicely; in fact, that were determined that we would share the stage with the others, despite their best efforts, and made sure that we did. I wasn’t surprised with how things turned, and by now it hardly matters. My little statuette is collecting dust admirably and my sons get to tell their friends that their dad used to play something called rock and roll. So it goes.

      I saw the film of The Keep years ago and periodically look for it on DVD. I didn’t know Hermes Trismegistus played a role in the book, which I’ve not read – I’ll keep (!) a look out for it too. I don’t know if you know that I wrote an introduction to a new edition of The Mind Parasites a few years ago. It remains one of my favourites of Wilson’s fictions, and I re-read it every couple of years or so. Also, I have chapters on Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard and the sword and sorcery boom of the 1960s in my book Turn Off Your Mind. While I’m at it I’ll mention New York Rocker, which has all the low down on my years with, hmm, that band. Apologies for the self-promotion.

      Thanks also for the info on the Velvets and the R n R Hall of Fame. I’ll have to check it out. Cheers

      • Dear Gary,

        I’m stoked to read your response to my
        post on here!! Well it turned out my
        local library which is pretty formidable,
        had The Dark Muse which i just picked up
        there today. I see you cite Blackwood,
        A. Machen and my friend S. T. Joshi’s
        fantastical book The Weird Tale within
        its pages, was even more stoked to
        a. get the book and b. see that you
        had cited all that stuff. Can’t wait to
        delve in. Anyway, yeah I’d gathered
        that Blondie could be a bit, er,
        dysfunctional and recall being saddened
        around 1997 as the reunion was
        starting up and reading various
        news stories, sitting in Brooklyn
        Heights at some pizzeria as I was,
        about the feuds going on already
        between Chris, Debbie and Clem
        and Frank and Nigel Harrison.
        Still makes me sad to think of this
        but then again, even The Dead
        Kennedys have had falling outs
        and legal battles, so it’s nothing
        new. As for F. Paul Wilson we’d
        run into him last year at the Horror
        Writers Assoc. Stoker Weekend
        convention on L.I. of all places,
        briefly, he’s a super nice guy.
        His hero in The Keep is named
        variously Glaeken and/or
        Trismegistus I think he intended
        the character as kind of an
        immortal embodiment of
        the classical Trismegistus.
        I found a boot of the movie
        recently it’s still out of print
        on DVD, not a great film
        but it’s fun at least. Michael
        Mann had issues with the book
        and diverged a great deal
        from it and was constricted
        to a 90-minute length, which
        must’ve been tough.
        I meant to say I was at a
        “secret” Iggy Pop show at
        Continental in NYC in
        1994 or so and I turned
        around towards the end
        of the show and Clem Burke
        was standing directly
        behind me, watching the show!
        And then the fire marshals
        shut the show down during
        “Lust For Life”.

        Scott

      • I’ve enjoyed S. T. Joshi’s writings and years ago I reviewed his biography of Lovecraft for the sadly defunct magazine Gnosis. I do,however, have a fond place in my heart for August Derleth, who Joshi takes to task for adulterating Lovecraft’s work. I cut my Cthulhu teeth on Derleth’s labours of love in my adolescence and am a fan of his Solar Pons stories – those wonderful Holmesian pastiches. Oddly, I reference Joshi’s The Weird Tale in a book I’m working on now, in the context of Lovecraft’s ‘cosmicism’ and its relation to the rather depressing view of human life offered by the molecular biologist Jacques Monod, Sartre’s Nausea, and the social philosopher John Gray. If you are friends with Joshi, please pass on my warm regard for his work. It sounds like the Iggy show was fun. All the best, Gary

  31. p.s. Good god, meant to say, I need to go order that new
    ed. of The Mind Parasites asap!

    Scott

  32. Scott Briggs Says:

    i will indeed pass on your regards to
    S.T. I’ve been a serious Lovecraftian
    since at least 1982 when I entered
    the “field” at a very tender age as a fan
    and later became something of a scholar
    and essayist/reviewer in the field mainly
    small press but lately for some larger
    publishers like Greenwood Press
    and McFarland. Anyway, a lot of us
    myself included started out reading
    anything by H.P.L. and then went
    seeking for related authors/fiction
    and I read all the Derleth “Mythos”
    fiction as well as Brian Lumley
    and co. when I started out, though
    I’m not a big fan of Derleth’s own
    stuff myself these days–I’m more
    into him for starting Arkham House
    with Wandrei and all that. There are
    some Lovecraft folks who adore
    Derleth and there are those
    who detest him and detest his
    pastiche Lovecraftian fiction
    in particular. I don’t detest it,
    just not as big into him as I was
    when I was 13 and just starting to
    discover H.P.L. and the field.
    I’m much more enamored of
    Machen, H.P.L. of course,
    Blackwood, Hodgson, M. R. James,
    Le Fanu, Clark Ashton Smith,
    et al. and for modern I’m
    a champion of Ramsey Campbell,
    Robert Aickman, Peter Straub,
    Thomas Ligotti, people like that.
    As for that Iggy show yeah it
    was a blast, too bad the fire marshal
    had to burst in towards the end
    and pull the plug early! but we
    got the bulk of the show. I recall
    these hot girls sitting on the sides
    of the stage and up on the
    amps and god knows what
    as Iggy played with some pickup
    band or other on the tiny
    Continental stage. We also
    saw him do a similar impromptu
    gig at Coney Island High
    a few years later with another
    pickup band he called the
    “F— Ups” and they did f up,
    starting the riff to “Search
    And Destroy” too early or
    repeating it by accident
    with Iggy getting a bit
    pissed off. No idea
    who these guys were.
    I kinda would rather
    have seen you and
    Clem up there with Iggy!!
    But both shows were
    pretty great and he
    did a lot more Stooges
    stuff than he probably
    does at regular gigs,
    I’m assuming.
    One thing I’m kicking
    myself for now is
    not holding onto
    all my old Blondie
    badges/pins and
    things! Although I
    do have a vintage
    Eat to the Beat plastic
    promo badge someone got
    for me a few years
    ago at the Hall of
    Fame or something.
    I do still have a gigantic
    old Blondie poster the one
    with just Debbie standing
    there resplendant in
    a black leotard dress,
    it’s bigger than life
    and mine’s a bit
    tattered but I still have it
    from circa 1979 or so.
    it has the Parallel
    Lines logo at bottom.

    Scott

  33. Gary, sorry meant to say i ordered copies
    of The Mind Parasites redux and your
    New York Rocker yesterday. cheers, Scott

  34. Gary,

    p.s. re: S. T. Joshi’s H.P. Lovecraft bio.–
    my friend Derrick Hussey’s Hippocampus Press
    from NYC released S. T.’s 2 volume
    unexpurgated Lovecraft bio. last year,
    a bit expensive but worth it, it’s the
    uncut and expanded version of the
    original bio. in 2 hardcover vols. and
    I think a paperback ed. is on the way.
    The bio. to be avoided these (or any)
    days is L. Sprague de Camp’s 1975 Doubleday
    HPL bio. which is full of errors, untruths,
    and wild surmises and shoddy
    research. I’m sure you might’ve
    mentioned that in your review if
    you covered de Camp’s bio in the
    process. S. T.’s The Weird Tale
    survey as well as its sequel The
    Modern Weird Tale are both equally
    essential. I saw you cited Mike
    Ashley’s bio. of Algernon Blackwood
    which is so fantastic! I think it’s time
    someone did a good bio. of Arthur
    Machen, so far some critical books,
    but not a solid bio. as far as I know.
    as Bauhaus sang: lament, repent….
    o mortal, you. hollow hills

    Scott

    • Unexpurgated? The edition I reviewed runs to over 600 pages as it is. What could he have left out? I read L. Sprague de Camp’s bio ages ago, in my early teens, and haven’t looked at it since – although I did just now give it a glance. Didn’t Lin Carter do a ‘Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos’, as he did the same for Tolkien? I was a big fan of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series (a title that today gives a very wrong impression…) and there are two books in that series I no longer have and periodically look for online: Carter’s anthology The Spawn of Cthulhu and Clark Ashton Smith’s Xiccarph. I have quite a few in the series and love the cover art work by Gervasio Gallardo and Bob LoGrippo. And yes, they also did a two volume edition of Hodgson’s Nightland – I have a hardcover re-issue from some years ago. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the Shard, the tallest building in western Europe that’s raised its controversial head over London recently. It is a kind of pyramid, although the sides are much more steep. In any case, whenever I see it I think of the Last Redoubt, in which the remnants of humanity sit out the eternal night of Earth’s last days. They don’t write ‘em like that any more…Cheers

  35. Yes, not good regarding sources though this is partially remedied through a link to another article which, though long, contains direct quotes from Colin Wilson, references on the ‘subject’ to Gurdjieff and William Blake including a recurrent illustration linked to this theme: http://www.zaporacle.com/mind-parasites-energy-parasites-and-vampires/. I posted the former piece on David Luke’s: https://www.facebook.com/groups/150573348303481/ and he responded with two very interesting published papers, http://www.scribd.com/doc/70007742/Discarnate-Entities and http://www.scribd.com/doc/30207747/Luke-David-An-Investigation-Into-the-Ontology-of-Entheogenic-Entity-Encounters. I was particularly intrigued with reference in the second paper to his ‘seeing’ part of The Vision of Ezekiel as I had a similar experience circa 1970 after taking LSD alongside significant association with William Blake and the prophet Isaiah; it is good to here and know of other’s experiences in this visionary realm. I continue to explore literature associated with Worcester and William Gerhardie’s ‘Memories of Satan’ sits waiting to be finished on my desk. ‘The Mind Parasites’ and as learned an investigation as I can muster into Siger of Brabant’s ‘Unicity of The Intellect’ Controversy (13th century) in the company of Bonaventure and Henry of Harclay et al http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/B039 keeps the adventure afloat . I feel like a heat-seeking missile searching out a tremendous secret; a vital motivation. Best, Vivian.

    • Thanks again for the links. Oddly, I’ll be speaking with David Luke this Thursday evening on Resonance FM (online and at 104.4 FM). I think the show is live, and runs 7-8:00 pm. We will speaking about psychedelics and such. Good luck with your guidance system.

  36. Do forgive the ‘parasitic’ typos! Best, Vivian.

  37. Dear Gary,

    yeah if you can believe it they’d actually cut
    pages out of S. T.’s orig. bio. and now we’ve
    got a 2 volume hc monster edition of the full
    uncut biography. I confess I haven’t even
    read the whole thing but have skimmed it.
    I own the pbk. of the original Necro. Press
    ed. and the new edition and count myself
    lucky to own either. I think I actually own
    the DAW ed. of Spawn of Cthulhu and/or
    Disciples of, as well as having the Lin Carter
    Ballantine pbk. of Xiccarph thank goodness.
    I think I have the Ballantine The Night Land
    2 vols. as well as some other Hodgson
    paperbacks but not much hardcover
    and the prices, as I continually bitch about
    lately in particular, are getting quite
    outrageous online but the bookstores
    are disappearing, and many of these
    dealers are pirates of the worst kind.
    I think I’m actually missing Lin Carter’s
    Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos,
    but I need to get that at some point,
    it’s a fairly decent book.
    I don’t mean to badmouth booksellers but…
    for example, L. W. Curry in particular I would never
    give him a dime he’s such a shameless
    huckster highballing prices on everything.
    I wish I’d been born 30 years earlier
    I might’ve actually had a shot at
    buying a lot of the books I’d like
    to own, esp. the earliest Arkham House,
    but the prices are just absurd now,
    as ever.

    Scott

  38. p.s. here’s the link to my pal Derrick’s
    Hippocampus Press–looks like the hc
    of S.T.’s uncut bio. is sold out, but the
    paperback edition is coming soon. which is
    like, good for those of us who don’t have
    millions to blow on books nowadays.
    there are some other small press people
    who are charging upwards of $500 for
    their books in the horror field which
    is also a trend I mainly abhor, since
    I feel it’s encouraging an air of total
    snobbery and elitism. I’m glad it’s
    signed by so and so but I’m not
    paying $3000 for it, no way.

    http://www.hippocampuspress.com/h.p-lovecraft/about-hp-lovecraft/i-am-providence-the-life-and-times-of-h.-p.-lovecraft?zenid=818a21ca07465aad79e4f699309e3320

  39. Gary,

    got New York Rocker in mails
    yesterday, perused a bit already,
    meant to mention I got a real larf
    when you mentioned first time
    seeing the Dolls and Elliott Murphy
    opened and you had no recollection
    of him or what became of him.
    I heard about Elliott for years
    but never seemed to catch him
    live in NYC, but I knew of him
    in the late 80s since he’d produced
    one of my fave indie bands of the time,
    Winter Hours, he produced an EP
    of theirs. Anyway, I finally caught
    Elliott at the Stony Brook college
    cafe concert series on LI two
    years ago with his new band
    and nowadays he lives in France
    mostly; he and his band were
    amazingly great, and I met
    Elliott afterwards and he got
    a laugh I was from Levittown, LI
    originally, and
    he grew up in Garden City,
    he signed my vinyl Winter Hours
    EP and was a really nice
    guy all around. I collected all his
    CDs since just about,
    and his music’s great
    esp. his first several
    LPs and Just A Story
    From America etc.
    I’m sure he hated the
    “next Dylan” tag,
    as did Steve Forbert
    who I’ve met a few times
    the past couple of years.
    Sadly Joseph Marques
    from Winter Hours
    O.D.’d and passed on
    around 2004, a real
    sad story, which Elliott
    was indeed well aware of.

    Scott

  40. I listened to Resonance FM but unfortunately no sign of you or David speaking. I endured instead an hour of poetry and abstract radio recordings of an unusual variety with a lot of emphasis on ‘the aesthetics of repetition’. Best, V.

    • Apologies for that. I didn’t know until I got to the studio that the show wouldn’t be live. It will air some time in August. I’ll post the link when I get it. Again, my apologies and I hope the poetry wasn’t that bad…

      • Thanks Gary. The poetry when read was not the best part of the show. Some of the ideas inspiring the work discussed were very imaginative. The contributors displayed a little too much cerebral introspection for overall listener satisfaction but they were having a great time all the same. I think they had all been beneficiaries of Arts Council and ICA largesse over the recent decades and had enjoyed, and were still enjoying, life in an alluring mental space. I will certainly check out Resonance FM again. V.

  41. Gary,

    I finally had time to actually put up some kind of a blog
    on here the past week or so, on the “death of the bookstore,
    weird fiction, and other topics”, basically, I hope it’s of interest
    to someone. I also was reading through a good deal of New York Rocker last night. I’m almost afraid to ask more about “famed” Blondie manager Peter Leeds, but…your book told me most
    of what I already had gathered about him, but do you know
    whatever became of him? Is he still alive? Did you ever
    get your due monies/royalties sorted out from him? Hopefully you sued him good! I think if I recall correctly the band in Making Tracks mentions they had a ten year battle or something to get out of that deal with Peter Leeds it took an army of lawyers to do it or somesuch. Clearly you were the only one in the band at the time with any head for business…nobody should’ve signed that deal!
    esp. not without a lawyer looking at it first. But this of course is
    a common tale in the music biz. I also meant to ask you if you recall any shenanigans going on in the early days with shops like Record World/Sam Goody’s in NY I recall seeing the first two LPs
    on vinyl being sold at Record World, if you recall the chain,
    and I was always aggravated that they sold “Blondie” and “Plastic Letters” in heavy mylar sleeves as IMPORTS when, as I learned
    years later, they were NOT imports, but the prices were inflated
    as such! If the regular LP price for Parallel Lines let’s say, was $7.99 the first two LPs “imports” were at least $12.99 or even more. As a kid I could never figure this out and didn’t even figure out till 1980 that those were the early Blondie LPs and not some
    weird compilations or whatever, all due to the Record World
    confusion/inflation. Sam Goodys I tried never to buy from
    since their prices were always ridiculous.

    Scott

  42. Hey Gary,

    so I spotted this new book on Blondie
    at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago,
    Parallel Lives, from Omnibus Press,
    read a few quotes of yours briefly
    in the book. Have you seen this?
    Do you think this book has any merit?
    I hesitated to buy it only because
    it’s probably cheaper online,
    and also, a lot of new books, even
    from major publishers, are
    edited/proofread so poorly, I’m almost
    afraid to buy it for fear it will be
    nearly unreadable.

    cheers,
    Scott

  43. Hi Gary, hope all is going steadily. Cycling recently in Culham I noticed a gig advertised as Blondie Parallel, makes a pleasant change to ‘tribute’; flattering nonetheless. After some years sitting in a favoured place in the Theology and Patristic studies section of the Bodleian, I thought a change was in order as I commenced reading Erik Davis’s interesting analysis of Led Zeppelin in ’33 1/3′ in the Upper Reading room; it was not long before I noticed I was also sitting next to the extensive William Blake section. I will begin my journey into these tomes soon but with one clear part of me still reflecting on my Lysergic experiences in the late 60s early 70s that remarkably included an exhilarating and extraordinary Blakean awareness (I wonder if he ever ventured to Weston-super-Mare, unlikely in the extreme, but, from an occult perspective The Order of The Golden Dawn chose the town as an important site (my old home town) along with Bradford. On the same theme, Yeats’ time in Oxford was very clearly, and certainly ceremonially busy. So it goes. Best wishes,Vivian.

  44. Soz, that should have read: Parallel Blondie !

  45. Hello Gary,

    I’m a photographer from Italy, this is my website: http://www.cirofrankschiappa.com

    There is any chance to show you a pdf of a photo project that i’ve done about history of rock in New York?

    keep in touch!

    Ciao
    Ciro

  46. [...] first installment, featured below, is an article by Gary Lachman that should prove to be a useful guide should the end of the world NOT happen in the coming [...]

  47. Just finished reading your last book on Madame Blavatsky, and…Bravo for having been able to present her biography without bias. You must have had a tremendous challenge, starting from the already published biographies, which, most of them present a one-side-only of the picture. No much new facts emerged from your quest, but some new names came on, therefore enriching the story.
    Thank you for your work.
    Jacques

  48. Many thanks for your comments Jacques, and I’m very glad you enjoyed the book. One thing: facts do not make a biography: they are the raw material out of which a writer tells the story of a life. Biography means ‘life writing’, not fact collecting. I mention this because it strikes me that these days biography has moved from being a branch of literature, to occupying some space somewhere in social science or academic history. My aim was to tell ‘the Blavatsky story’ as interestingly and objectively as possible. I think I did that, and that the book would not be better if I included some ‘new’ information, such as what she had for breakfast one morning, or what she wore on a particular day. At the beginning of the book I say that my aim is not to ‘tell the truth’ about Madame B, nor to ‘nail her down’ once and for all, both objectives being doomed from the start. My aim was to introduce new readers to a remarkable life, and to give people familiar with Blavatsky a different perspective from which to see her. Again, I think I did that. But I do provide some new material. I clear up the mystery around whether or not she ever met D. D. Home. I also clarify the scandal around her supposed illegitimate child Yuri. I also argue that she most likely did not smoke hashish, and make a good argument that she may have had some strange form of ‘controlled’ multiple personality, as evidenced by her writings. My central aim, though, was to show her place and importance in the history of ideas, both in the esoteric world and in the broader stream of western culture. It is a shame that many readers think a biography is only good or worthwhile if some ‘new’ tidbit of information is provided, rather than whether or not the author gives us a new way to understand a life. and tells a story well Undoubtedly a determined researcher, armed with fluent Russian and an unlimited expense account, and having no deadline, may be able to unearth some hitherto unrecorded facts about her. Sadly I do not work under these conditions. But unless these facts prove to be some earth-shaking revelation, I do not think they would necessarily impact on who she was and what her life was about. This is the case with all my biographies, of Steiner, Swedenborg, Jung, Ouspensky. My aim is not to uncover unknown facts, but to understand who these people were and what their lives meant. Again, this leads to another point, the contention that I do not use ‘primary’ sources. What is more primary than the writings these creative individuals have left behind, and the accounts of them by people who knew them, both of which I obviously use in my books? I am not necessarily a detective, but an interpreter, a critic, and my aim is to show why these people were important and what we can gain by engaging with them today. In order to do this, I need to understand what others have written about them and, if necessary, to take argument with this.
    In any case, thanks again for the warm words and for inspiring me to clarify a few points.

  49. Hi Gary, Am enjoying reading your Blavatsky book, and love your comment about the book being written from the vantage point of why these people are important. I want to ask you your perspective on modern mystics such as Sai Baba, Amma, and Nithyananda. Have you written about them anywhere?
    Thanks again!

    • Hello Martyn. I’m glad you’re enjoying the book. I haven’t written about Sai Baba or the other mystics you mention, although I do mention Sai Baba when discussing HPB’s apparent ability to ‘materialise’ objects. I simply don’t know much about them; in general I haven’t touched on many Eastern teachers, and have focussed mostly on western adepts. Perhaps further down the line I’ll get around to them. All the best, Gary

  50. jpfulton314 Says:

    Quick question, Gary. What do you feel the reputation of the word “Theosophy” is? I am struggling with the idea of changing the name of Theosophy.Net to something else. There are times where I get the impression that the word carries something of a giggle factor with it, in spite of the influence of HPB on our culture.

    On several occasions academics have expressed outright fear of their names being associated with the word Theosophy. What are your thoughts? If you could send those by private e-mail it would be most appreciated.

  51. Hey Gary,

    Just wanted to drop a fanmail note re Madame Blavatsky. Where to begin other than to say thanks for humanizing such a intense/dense being who has hovered above my Gurdifjeff/Steiner interest in a, let’s face it, peculiar-ish way. Probably first crossed paths with her when I was 17 or so (I’m basically your age) and while there was something intriguing, always somewhat suspicious and really kinda impeneratrable. (Quick aside, fwiw I have found Sri Madhava Ashish’s) (A Brit for all that) Man Son of Man and Man the Measure of All Things) the first enjoyable and comprehensible connections with the Stanzas.)

    Anyway, having read your Ouspensky and Steiner — which I enjoyed,was already familar with most of the same sources — other than some gushing Theosophist “biography” I tried to read some years ago, I really had the minimal sense of her and mostly had color on her through Steiner, which is not really first hand …

    … So anyway, thanks, the big pay off at the end was the quote, which I will mangle, about having a divine spark that might be heard snoring, about the drollest spiritual assessment I’ve heard.

    I think your works have served two functions well: first, humanizing the subjects, whereby truly humanizing, the real spiritual man or woman shines through, rather than the plastic demigod/guru — and further to this, it is very reinforcing for me to have the vignettes of generosity and compassion, like Blavatsky with her gift of here little business or Gurdjieff in Paris during the war buying the horrible paintings from the old man without means or money. All this esoteric/occult stuff is important, fascinating, etc. but as they say in Corinthians, about “sounding brass” If we have not love. Secondly, the body of work you are creating is really doing a great service of showing the relatedness within a really broad context of stuff that should be just a little bit more mainstreamed. The creativity of these figures is huge and it seems that is easier to dismiss them individually but I think your work creates a great nucleus of “hey let’s look at this bunch reasonably”. Hope that makes sense.

    Could go on at length but suspect I have rambled too much already. Keep up the good work!

    • Dear David, Many thanks for your perceptive remarks. I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed Madame B, as well as my other books. I appreciate that you feel I humanize these very human – sometimes superhumam – individuals, and I’m also very gratified that you see a connection between them and that they should be much more of a part of the mainstream. That is precisely my aim. I want to take people like Madame B or Steiner out of the ‘spiritual ghetto’ they’ve lived in for many years, and show how they have impacted on western culture in general. I also want to show that they all have a great deal to contribute to the ongoing conversation in the west about who and what we are and, more important, what we are supposed to do now that we find ourselves here. It is very encouraging to hear from readers like you, who get the point. I think that slowly, some ‘esoteric’ ideas will permeate the barrier between mainstream and underground, and that some time in the future – perhaps by the middle of this century – we will see a shift in the attitude toward them. Most likely we won’t be around to appreciate it, but I do have a sense that we are seeing the beginning of it now. In any case, many thanks again. All the best, Gary

      • Charmane Vaianisi Says:

        Hello. I too have been very impressed with – particularly – your most human and grounded approach to introducing Steiner. As a student of anthroposophy for the last 11 years, I could completely relate to the last writer’s aversion to “gushing” anthroposophical accounts of Steiner’s life and work. Thank you for an alternative that avoids a sugar coating / lacing.

        And I love your graceful ability to be fully inclusive of so many seemingly conflicting streams of esotericism throughout your works so far – all from that same human, grounded perspective. This is a human journey after all; no one stream of thought has the corner market. And while one spirit-revealing teacher may particulary resonate with any one of us, we so need the freedom to explore and dialogue with streams of thought that branch into divergent paths. In fact, I believe Steiner’s _Philosophy of Freedom_ was all about the necessity of individuation through inner contemplation, in response to, and in anticipation of, our individually unique paths through this world — and by “world,” I’m referring to all of it… everything we perceive / learn through the basic 5 senses… everything we create / set forth through our actions… everything we experience through dream / imagination / thought. Certainly, Steiner didn’t advise such an approach merely to sustain us until the anthroposophical society came into existence. There was a reason Steiner was only a guiding light, and not “president,” of early anthroposophical organizations.

        I also agree that we’ve already begun to see a significant shift in mainstream acceptance of esoteric ideas. I work for a Steiner-based school in a “university town.” I often come upon people from academic backgrounds who find themselves “tolerating” esoteric ideas because, at some point, there’s been an experience of almost shockingly effective results when those ideas have been practically applied. Such dismayed-turned-cautiously-curious representatives of academia, to me, are only one example of a spirit-denying culture catching sight of needed / missing puzzle pieces – shards occasionally glimmering from the shadow of their hiding places – hidden only because these areas of human life have been traditionally and purposely turned away from.

        As someone who grew up in the ’70s, _just_ able to remember Blondie and Iggy Pop, and as an “unknown” writer and musician myself, I am also heartened to see a popular musician’s work taken seriously and finding publishers and (deservedly) ardent readers.

        Thank you for getting your works out into the world. Your efforts have truly, positively reached me… and surely – even indirectly – they’ve likewise touched many, many others.

        My very best wishes in all your endeavors,
        Charmane

      • Dear Charmane,

        Many thanks for these thoughtful comments. You are precisely the kind of reader I am trying to reach. People like Steiner, Jung, Blavatsky, and the others I have written about and whose ideas I continue to explore are all engaged in the same project of trying to understand who we are and what we are supposed to be doing now that we find ourselves in this mysterious world. And it must mean something that people who start out being interested in rock and roll now devote themselves to these kinds of pursuits. It’s not a question of exchanging one for the other, but of encouraging a larger and more inclusive view of reality. I am especially pleased to hear that someone like yourself, who has worked in the anthroposophical community for many years, can see the need to pool ideas and insights with people working in other schools. Thank you again and good luck with your work. All the best, Gary

  52. Madelyn Freeman Says:

    What must be heard and remembered is the ‘teaching” – not to be confused with the ‘cult of personality’ – distracting us from messages emanating from the oceanic depths within the human psyche via our teachers serving only as ‘messengers’ or conduits of finer energies …

  53. David A. Beardsley Says:

    Hello Gary, from a fellow Jersey guy. I just bought your Hermes book from amazon, and am enjoying it. It seems like I should have come across your work sooner, since we share an interest in so many of the same people, but there it is. I could go on for quite a while, but for now please feel free to visit my site idealinthewest.com. I also have a book of that name and several articles that I’d be glad to “gift” you. Keep up the good work. Take care.

    • Hello David. Many thanks for your message and the link to your site. I’m glad you’re enjoying Hermes. New Jersey can certainly produce some interesting things. All the best.

  54. Hello Gary,
    After reading some favourable reviews of your recent book about HPB I decided to order a copy, which I received today and will read with great interest. A quick glance around the book seemed to indicate that you have decided that the ‘Masters’ are relatively ordinary people that HPB held in particularly high esteem, rather than the members of the spiritual kingdom in nature that has evolved out of the human kingdom. However, you might be interested to know that there have been many others who have since studied with, worked for and written about these Masters of Wisdom, such as George Adamski, Rolf Alexander, Alice A. Bailey, Benjamin Creme, Murdo MacDonald-Bayne, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Helena Roerich, and Baird T. Spalding. (In 2008 I published a comprehensive overview of teachings that have come down from the Masters since HPB’s work on the website “Our Elder Brothers Return – A History in Books (1875-Present): http://www.biblioteca-ga.info.) Other books, such as “The Boy and the Brothers” by Swami Omananda (1959) or “Talking With Angels” by Gitta Mallasz (1976), are powerful testimonies to the reality of the Masters as more highly evolved ‘elder brothers’ of humanity, rather than particularly gifted ‘ordinary’ members of the human race. I was wondering if you considered this view of the Masters at all, since I can’t imagine you were not aware of these corroborations of HPB’s descriptions of the Masters? Cheers, Gerard

    • Dear Gerard, Many thanks for your remarks. I am aware of the other interpretations of the Masters and speak of them briefly in the last section of the book. But HPB always insisted her ‘Masters’ were flesh and blood men and women – exceptional and advanced – but human just the same. I myself have not had any contact with Masters, flesh and blood or otherwise, but I keep an open mind about these things. In the book I was trying to stay as close as possible to what Blavatsky herself believed, rather than argue which version of the Masters – if any – is the ‘right’ one. I personally think it is more important for us to strive to actualize our own potentials as much as possible, rather than rely on the help of ‘higher beings’, although I do not necessarily reject their possibility (or their help). All the best and many thanks for the link

  55. Thomas Karp Says:

    I am now reading your book at Rudolf Steiner, Mr. Lachman. I went to a Waldorf school for about a year-and-a-half when I was in high school ,with, of all people, the singer Judy Collins’ kid sister. The year was 1970 and her sister’s big hit at the time was her version of ‘Amazing Grace’. Six years later, I found myself one day in a recording studio on top of Radio City Music Hall, NYC. My brother and his band were recording an album with Richard Gottehrer, and they were sharing this studio with you. I walked into the studio that day to find Richard, Rob Freeman, and Debby H. working on the final mix of ‘In The Flesh’. Of course, I said “hello”.

    • Thomas, it is a small world. I remember the Radio City studio well, especially being in the elevator with some of the Rocketttes… All the best and I hope you will enjoy the book.

  56. Hi Gary,
    I really enjoyed your book about Ouspensky, thanks for your contribute. I’m guitarist from Italy, i teach and play in Lucid Dream band… I attack the opening track of my solo album “Rock Meditations”, this album is a deep voyage in the realm of Soul…Hope you feel it!

    • Dear Simone, many thanks for the link. I’m sure Ouspensky would be surprised that he’s inspired a guitarist in a rock band. I’m glad you liked the book and that it seems to be getting to the right people. All the best, Gary

      • Yes Gary!!Ouspensky would be happy looking at me while in the silence of my presence i try to crystallize the music in my body, my heart and my mind, fighting hard with myself facing the infinity with my soul…!the system was to liberate people but trapped because it becomes the end and not a means to…empty and then fill but never forgetting our human nature that is the basis from which we start … we can touch the highest peaks of the sky and laugh even more absurd banality … this is our mystery…O. suffered so much because G. canceled his noble sensitive nature … we must never allow this to happen and awaken our inner life with the energy, the strength of a warrior and the sensitivity and emotion of an artist in front of magnitudes of the universe…

  57. Hi Gary,

    Firstly, I really enjoyed Secret History of Consciousness. Really eye-opening.

    I’m writing to let you know that the Lucia Light Device has arrived in London (you may have heard). I’ve been twice and am helping the guys with spreading the word. It’s around until mid May 2013. We were wondering if you might be interested in coming down to give it a try for free, if you’re still living in London?

    Just in case this doesn’t reach you in time, I’ve left a message on your Facebook account. Hope to hear from you.

    Liam.

    • Just reading the wonderful Secret History of Consciousness. I am afraid I had never heard of A R Orage before and can’t find anywhere on the web how to pronounce his name – like mirage or porridge ?

      • He originally pronounced it like ‘porridge’ but George Bernard Shaw told him that was barbaric and suggested he pronounce it as the French would. So it is O-rage, as in mi-rage. He is a brilliant though little known figure, and there are some very good chapters on him in James Webb’s book about Gurdjieff and Co., The Harmonious Circle Best, Gary

  58. Thanks Gary. GBS’s influence even greater than I knew ! I am greatly enjoying working through your books – Secret History the fourth – since I heard you on Madame B at the recent London SMN meeting.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the books. If you get a chance, Orage’s grave, in Hampstead Parish Churchyard, just behind Hampstead Village on Church Row, is worth visiting. The stone has an enneagram – a symbol used in Gurdjieff’s system – carved by Eric Gill. The writer on mysticism Evelyn Underhill is also buried there, as well as the philosopher C.E.M. Joad. It may take a bit of searching, but it is certainly worth it. Cheers.

  59. Thanks again, Gary. I’ll make a point of visiting the churchyard again . Last visit many years ago (I knew Hugh Gaiskell buried there) when I hadn’t heard of Gurdjieff or Evelyn Underhill either.

  60. hello Gary

    I will really appreciate your advice: i’m an israeli student for philosophy and education and very interested in the last few years in the writing of rudolf steiner. i have a second degree, and decided to write my phd on the philosophy of steiner’s thinking. i would really like to find a university in the U.S in which i can write on this subject.
    are you by any chance can recommand on a certain professor or university to whom i can write? i didn’t chose my specific title yet, but im getting there..
    Thank you very much
    Barak

    • Dear Barak,

      You may want to get in touch with Robert McDermott at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is a philosophy professor who has worked with Steiner’s ideas for many years; he edited a very good anthology, The Essential Steiner, and it was through this that I became interested in Steiner myself. Here is a link to the Institute’s website I am teaching an online course there this fall on the evolution of consciousness, and will be discussing some of Steiner’s ideas, along with those of other thinkers. Here is a link to Robert McDermott’s web page at the Institute; his email is listed there. I hope this is of some help. Please let me know how it turns out and good luck!

      Best, Gary

  61. I am reading your book on Jung the Mystic. I think it is a great contribution to the field of consciousness and provides a clearer understanding of Jung’s life. As a teacher of the Progoff Intensive Journal method I wonder if you know of the connection between Ira Progoff and Jung. He was Jung;s student in the 50s and developed the Intensive Journal as a tool for active imagination and individuation. He had a deep understanding of the transcendent function and wrote many books you may be interested especially his book on Jung, Synchronicity and Human Destiny which Jung praised as superior to his own. The Intensive Journal method is an outstanding teaching and practice. Ira wrote extensively about Jung, Adler, Rank and Freud as well
    Thank you for your work. Carol

    • Dear Carol, many thanks for your comment. Yes, I know Progoff’s work. I read quite a bit of him some time ago and know his book on synchronicity and his Death and Rebirth of Psychology. I haven’t gone back to him in recent years but I will now. All the best, Gart

  62. Radio Inviatation to The Visionary Actvist Show on Pacifica Radio Network in U.S.

  63. Dear Gary Lachman,

    I hope that this finds you well.
    I’m a writer and curator with a deep interest in your writing and research.
    I wonder if you might be willing to provide me with an email or postal address at which I could write you directly?
    My contact details are below.
    Sincere thanks for your great work which I continue to glean much from.
    I wish you a wonderful 2014.
    Warmest regards!

    Pádraic E. Moore

  64. A few minutes ago I was thinking there were two Gary Lachmans. VERY happy to discover a “friend of Barfield” who is also involved in music. As a groovologist I’ve been writing about Barfield (and Gregory Bateson, Emerson and Nietzsche on “joyous science”) and dividing the world into “participation theorists” and “alienation theorists”.
    Who would you say has done most to develop Barfield’s ideas about participatory consciousness? Don’t be bashful if you think it is one of your books I need to read first.
    Happy to send you a copy of a letter to me from Barfield (Oct. 24th, 1985) in exchange for tips to a book and/or an article taking “participation” further.
    Best wishes,
    Charlie

    • Dear Charlie,

      Many thanks for your message. There are a few Gary Lachmans, as far as I can tell from the Internet; I’m just one of them. Very interesting to hear of your groovology. As for Barfield, well I have written about his work in a few of my books. If you are interested its probably best to start with A Secret History of Consciousness. I devote quite a bit of space to his ideas here and also link to them to other participatory thinkers, such as Jean Gebser and the little-known Jurij Moskvitin, as well as to people like Colin Wilson and others. More recently Barfield plays a large part in my book The Caretakers of the Cosmos, again in the context of other thinkers, such as Alfred North Whitehead, Bergson, and Iain McGilchrist. I assume you know of this Barfield site: http://www.owenbarfield.org/ It is excellent. I’ll be drawing on his work for a new book I am working on, and I plan a later book, dealing with consciousness and the imagination, that will link his ideas to phenomenology. All the best, Gary

  65. Hi Gary,

    I recently read your excellent Dedalus book of the 1960′s, at 27 I am part of a generation that has always felt in the shadow of a more mythical recent past in terms of music, art and culture. Like many of my friends we have pieced together ideologies and records of the past to form our identity, as Simon Reynold’s explored in his recent book Retromania. The lure of the Sixties still leads many down different paths, as above as below, some are pleasant and some not so. Your book showed clarity regarding this and resonated with a lot of my own experiences. It was wonderful to read a book on the occult that made use of critical thinking and was wary of what Robert Anton Wilson once said, that “if you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.”

    I’m looking forward to reading your biography of Swedenborg which is next on my list. I attended a New Church from the age of 4 to 12 but it was only until very recently, through my reading about William Blake and a visit to Swedenborg’s house on Bloomsbury Way, that I have found myself reacquainting with his works. It’s exciting to think of all the wonders and resonating ideas that lie ahead, I look forward to your work being a useful guide. Many thanks for the food for thought.

    All the best,

    Jack

    • Dear Jack, Many thanks for your warm words about Turn Off Your Mind. I hope you like Swedenborg as much. All the best and thanks again for joining the conversation here. Best, Gary

  66. Dear Gary,

    You and your readers might like;

    *The Wholeness of Nature* by Henri Bortoft – subtitled “Goethe’s Way toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature”

    Paul

    • Dear Paul, Many thanks. I know Henri Bortoft’s work and have drawn on it in my own writing on Goethe and Steiner. I didn’t know him but did meet him briefly at the British Library through our mutual editor Christopher More and was sorry to hear of his passing. Thank you for sharing this. Best, Gary

  67. Hi Mr Lachman,
    Im currently reading Secret History of Consciousness, my third of your books, loving it! I wanted to ask, with regard to the piece on ants in the chapter on Bergson, if you had perhaps come across the zoological perspective that in ants it is the colony tgat posesses the consciousness, not so much the single individual ant?

    Its does not of course alter the narrative on Bergson, i just thought you would enjoy seeing that perspective

    Thanks for many hours of happiness, and for tripling my amazon to-read list ;)

    Sean

    • Many thanks for your comments. I think Bergson himself does touch on this in Creative Evolution, but you might also want to look at The Life of the White Ant by Maurice Maerterlink, a contemporary of Bergson’s and, at the time, a very popular writer. The book is really about termitaries, but it does look into the idea of a group consciousness among insects – the beehive is another example. All the best, Gary

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