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.
Archive for consciousness
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.
I’ll be taking part in a dialogue about the occult in the postmodern age with Pam Grossman, Mitch Horowitz, and David Metcalfe at Reality Sandwich on Monday, November 17 at 8:00 PM EST – although it will be 1:00 AM GMT the 18th for me here in London. The wee hours are traditionally a good time to enter other dimensions, so perhaps my late-night will be for the best…
Here’s a link to an article on Colin Wilson that I wrote for Quest Magazine. My thanks to Richard Smoley, the editor, for posting it on line.