Here’s a thoughtful review of my book on Aleister Crowley. Would that all his readers were so even-handed… In other news, I’ve just received the copy-edited manuscript of my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World, which is due out later this year. So far the editor hasn’t pointed out too many glaring errors, but it’s early yet… My online course on “Phenomenology as a Mystical Discipline” for the CIIS is moving along, although some students are a bit taken aback by some of Colin Wilson’s remarks about sex. We’re using his book Superconsciousness – along with readings from my A Secret History of Consciousness and The Caretakers of the Cosmos – and the links between “peak experiences” and sexuality are evidently not crystal clear. But we still have more than a month to go, so with any luck all will be revealed…
Archive for the Introduction Category
Here’s an interview I did recently with Mandy Pho for her Philosophy of Health website. We ranged over quite a few subjects and I appreciated having a chance to talk about philosophy for a change…
Recently I delivered the manuscript of my new book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World, to my publisher Tarcher/Penguin. The Secret Teachers of the Western World is an attempt to look at and understand the western esoteric tradition through the lens of split-brain psychology – via Iain McGilchrist’s fascinating work The Master and His Emissary, about the rivalry between our two cerebral hemispheres – and the “structures of consciousness” of the German-Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser. I’ve written about both in earlier books, McGilchrist in The Caretakers of the Cosmos and Gebser in A Secret History of Consciousness. I also reviewed McGilchrist’s book – you can find the review here – and have an essay on Gebser in Revolutionaries of the Soul. The book will be out later this year, and closer to publication I will post some excerpts here and on my blogs at the Daily Grail and Reality Sandwich websites. It’s the longest book I’ve done – just short of 200k words – and as you might suspect, it demanded a considerable amount of effort. I hope its readers find it worth it.
I was asked by the Excellence Reporter to answer the question: What is the meaning of life? No small query, to be sure, but one we have to answer at some time or another. Here’s my shot at it.
Penguin Classics has put out a new edition of Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men to which I’ve contributed an Introduction. The book was an important influence on me in my early years and remains the most readable thing Gurdjieff wrote; while recognizing the importance of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, readers of that unwieldy masterpiece will, I think, agree. So not surprisingly I am very happy to be introducing this gripping esoteric adventure story to a new generation, and perhaps reminding an older one just how remarkable both Gurdjieff and his spiritual autobiography are. (I’m not sure when or if it will be available in the US; amazon.co.uk have it listed as a Kindle edition, but the paperback should be available after February 5.) I have also contributed an essay, “New Age Fin De Siecle” to an impressive tome, The Fin-De-Siecle World, published by Routledge and edited by Michael Saler, a professor of history at UC Davis. I argue that along with its stereotyped character as a era of decadence, the fin-de-siecle also had a very positive, progressive side, in which mysticism, science, the occult, and quite a few other things came together in a remarkable blend, and that practically everything associated with today’s “new age” can be traced back to it. Some idea of the essay can be found in an earlier post “The Spirit at the Turn of the 20th Century,” which readers can find below. I’ve also contributed entries on C.G. Jung, Stan Gooch (an important paranormal investigator and theorist on human evolution) and Colin Wilson to another door-stopping work, Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies, edited by Matt Cardin, which will available later this year. I hope that anyone who hasn’t read Meetings With Remarkable Men may be encouraged to give it a try, and that readers familiar with it may feel its time for a new copy. The Fin-De-Siecle World and Ghosts, Spirits and Psychics, on the other hand, are massive academic works, and are priced beyond most readers’ budgets. But perhaps your local library or institute of higher education could be persuaded to add them to their collection. (By the way, I get no royalties from any sales, so this isn’t a plug to help pay my rent.)
Here’s a link to an interview with Gnostic Warrior radio. Not surprisingly, the conversation ranged over quite a bit of material. Crowley’s in there somewhere, as are the Gnostics, and the occult – but have a listen and find out.