Here is an interview I did with my good friend Richard Smoley for New Dawn Magazine about the inimitable Madame Blavatsky. How better to start a new year? https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/the-inscrutable-madame-blavatsky-an-interview-with-gary-lachman
Archive for the Introduction Category
I’ve written a brief obituary for Colin Wilson for the Occulture site. A longer one will appear in Fortean Times.
I was in Holland speaking at a conference on Hermeticism when I heard the news of Colin’s passing. As synchronicity would have it, one of the people I spoke about was him; I even had that wonderful photograph of him in his early days, with the rollneck jumper and cracked tea mug, sitting by his typewriter as part of my presentation. As you might expect, the news shook me and I was not on best form, but I think the audience appreciated what I had to say. Colin was included in the talk because of his belief in humanity and its need for heroes. He wanted us to see through what he called “the fallacy of insignificance,” the belief that we are pointless, unimportant accidents in a purposeless universe, as most of the intellectuals who dismissed his work humbly accepted. He knew better and so did everyone who read his books. He lamented the loss of the hero but he was a hero to us all. I know he certainly was one to me. If anything I’ve written has any value at all, it is because it is informed with the brilliant ideas that came from his encyclopedic mind. To get an education you needn’t go to Oxford, Cambridge or an Ivy League school. You only have to read The Outsider, or The Occult, or Mysteries, or any of the many remarkable books on philosophy, literature, psychology, criminology, the occult, parapsychology and the rest that he wrote and follow his leads. If you do I assure you you will get an education you can’t obtain at any of those schools or elsewhere. I know, because I have. I am amazed when I realize I’ve known Colin and his family for 30 years. I first met him in January 1981 at the Village Bookshop on Regent Street. I still have a cassette recording of the talk he gave, somewhere among my things. It was on Frankenstein’s Castle, a book an enterprising and enlightened publisher should re-issue. I was living in NYC at the time and stayed an extra week in London, just to hear him speak. Like any fan boy, I asked him to autograph a book and he very graciously did. But my real friendship began in 1983, when I visited him in Cornwall as part of a ‘mini-search for the miraculous’ I embarked on that summer. Since then I have had the pleasure to visit him and Joy many times, and to put them up in Los Angeles in the late 80s, when he was in town for a talk. I had the great honor of getting several sheets to the wind with him on more than one occasion and believe me, Husserl is much more understandable under such conditions. He was a hero to me and a mentor but even more he was and remains a very good friend. He made all of us Outsiders very much at home.
Here’s an interview I did with Syncbook Radio on their 42 Minutes program during which we talk about magical music, the influence of Aleister Crowley on popular culture, what happened in the 1960s, suicide and synchronicities, among other things…
Here is the second part of my talk at Watkins.
I’ll be speaking about my new book, The Caretakers of the Cosmos, at Watkins Books in Cecil Court, London, on Thursday, 21 November, from 6:30 to 7:30. The talk is free and I’ll be signing copies of the book, as well as any others, provided they’re by me. The talk will be filmed and posted on You Tube so dress well. Details here.
I’ve posted another excerpt from The Caretakers of the Cosmos on my blog at Reality Sandwich. Check it out and get working!
Thursday, September 5, 2013
However, in his most recent book, ‘The Caretakers of the Cosmos: Living Responsibly in an Unfinished World’, he explicitly sets out his own views of what it means to be human and why we are here? This being Lachman his views are set out lucidly, engagingly, tentatively and accompanied by a cloud of illustrious witnesses from the Hermetic tradition and the the Kabbalah, to Blake and Goethe through to Berdyaev and Cassirer (amongst many others).
He begins with the Hermetic and Kabalistic notion that in creating the world God left it purposely unfinished and that humankind’s task was to complete the world through repairing it. In the Kabbalah such repairing is done through continuous acts of loving attention that allows the world to be seen, handled and disposed aright. The intention with which we handle the world, the intention of repairing, transfigures the world suffusing it with meaning. This intention and attention may be very simple – treating the person at the Sainsbury checkout counter as a person in themselves or more radically imaginative, the poets Blake and Milosz beholding ‘the spiritual sun’!
But in some important way, Lachman argues, the cosmos was made for man (and vice versa), our conscious beholding of it, the doors of our perception cleansed, brings it fully to life.
Such a viewpoint necessarily comes into conflict with both materialist reductionism and postmodern ennui and, I confess, the most entertaining parts of the book are when Lachman puts them to flight and he does so in the company not simply of airy poets and woefully neglected philosophers but in the company of hard core (Nobel adorned) physicists and neuroscientists. The gentle skewering of John Gray’s misanthropic posturing is especially enjoyable.
However, I think, his most serious point is to notice that it is only since we displaced ourselves as cosmic guardians and saw ourselves, in an increasingly fractured way, as simply ‘part of nature’, an animal amongst other animals, that our serious despoiling of that very ‘nature’ or ‘environment’ began in earnest, without self-correcting limit. He quotes Louis Claude de Saint Martin, the Unknown Philosopher, to the effect that we have clothed ourselves in a ‘false modesty’ rather than seeking to be fully human and accept the responsibility that entails in a cosmos completed by us, a co-creation with God, we have settled for being ‘only human’ amongst the other animals, which has often meant, that we become less than other animals, wrapped in seeking identity, satisfaction and consumption, restless activity rather than a composed crafting, a repairing of cosmos.
Like his books before, you are set out upon new avenues of thought and reading. I came away knowing that I must (re)read Berdyaev that remarkable Christian personalist philosopher who sees it incumbent on us to exercise our freedom and creativity to create a home where God can dwell in the world, beginning with recognising that the glory of God is the human person fully alive. That life Lachman maintains is contagious and lights up the meaning of the creation as well as our own souls.