An Interview for the Jean Gebser Society

Here’s a link to a recent interview I did with Aaron Cheak for the Jean Gebser Society. Gebser is one of the most important philosophers of the last century, and as you most likely know, I write about him in several of my books: A Secret History of ConsciousnessThe Quest for Hermes TrismegistusRevolutionaries of the Soul and my most recent book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World. The theme of the interview is the link between western philosophy and esotericism, but as you’ll see we cover a lot of ground, from my first introduction to these ideas to my latest approach to them. Aaron Cheak has done some very interesting work on Gebser, digging into his biography and associations with people like the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, and he is currently translating more of Gebser’s work into English. I will certainly be happy to see this, as Gebser is so far under-translated and we can use as much of him as we can get.

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6 Responses to “An Interview for the Jean Gebser Society”

  1. Excellent interview Gary – just way too short. I have “The Ever Present Origin” beside my bed. I wish I could take a week off and give Jean Gebser his due. I prefer Kindle versions for notes and reading without disturbing my wife, but I have to read it soon. It’s an itch I have to scratch.

    I love the primal trust issue. It’s a position I have come to over the past six months or so. It struck me that it is the carrot to the stick of Pascal’s wager. Life may ultimately have meaning or it may not.

    Either way, to assume life does have meaning, regardless of direct evidence (through the lens of our minds and judgement),means that life is lot more fun and much more interesting. Gebser’s wager perhaps? I’ll take that bet every day.

    I’m going to post a review of your “Secret Teachers” opus as soon as I can.

    Finally. Have you ever read Paul Tillich’s book “The Courage to Be”? A great theological and existential look at the meaning of life. The itch continues…

    Sorry – one more thing. You really should have an Amazon affiliate button on your site. I have bought more books directly because of you – yours, Colin Wilson’s as well as many others. I buy from Amazon.com and some on .ca when hard copy is only option. I bought three copies of “Secret Teachers” – one for me to go with KIndle version and two for people I think might be receptive to the wisdom. Anything I can do for the evolution of consciousness helps that itch too.

    Thanks again for all this material – very important stuff here.

    • Hello John. I’m glad you liked the interview – I should be doing a few more in the next few weeks. I prefer email ones like this one: it gives a chance to thnk about the replies and I can do this at any time. I like your idea of “Gebser’s wager.” You’re right. If life is meaningless but we assume it is meaningful, there’s no harm done as it doesn’t matter what we do. If life is meaningful and we assume it is, then we moving with the current, as it were. But if it is meaningful and we assume it isn’t, then we lose. And as you say, assuming it is meaningful is more fun. I did read Tillich’s The Courage to Be and a few of his other books many years ago, around the same time that I read Rollo May and other advocates of “existential psychology.” Do you know Victor Frankl’s work? Man’s Search for Meaning is a powerful work, if you don’t know it. As for an Amazon affiliate button – what do I do? I imagine its something I need to arrange from the amazon site? I will look in to it. And thank you for that marvelous review! The book is slowly getting some attention – I’ve sent review copies to as many people as I can think of. I am hoping that it can move out of the new age/mind, body, spirit niche into a broader readership. I think that happens best by word of mouth these days, hence I’ve arranged for more interviews this month and next. I’m hammering away at Beyond the Robot; it will most likely be rather longer than I expected, as I am trying to do equal justice to Wilson’s life and his ideas, and there are so many of these! In any case, writing the book has brought my understanding of his ideas into sharper focus. Many thanks again for your support John. All the best, Gary

  2. I very much enjoyed the interview, as well. Thanks for linking to it.

    One quibble, though. I sense that you share Barfield’s negative appraisal of the Surrealists, which, if true, is unfortunate, all the more so as no intellectual movement of the 20th Century engaged more intensively and more seriously than esoteric thought than Breton and his group.

    There are two outstanding recently published books on this subject that I would commend to your attention, if you don’t know them, already: Surrealism and the Occult by Tessel M. Bauduin (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/S/bo19177838.html) and Patrick LePetit, The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism (http://books.simonandschuster.com/The-Esoteric-Secrets-of-Surrealism/Patrick-Lepetit/9781620551752). I hope you find them of interest, if they make their way onto the pile!

    • I do share some of Barfield’s concern about some aspects of surrealism, but I have to say that I have a soft spot for Breton, and read him and the other surrealists avidly many years ago. I write about Breton, Rene Crevel and some others in my section on “the Surrealist Suicide” in The Dedalus Book of Literary Suicides: Dead Letters. (Not a plug!) I know their interest in the Occult and have read Breton’s Arcana 17. Thanks for mentioning the two recent books about this. I will check them out when I get a breather. My basic misgiving is their notion that giving the unconscious an unchecked expression is salutary; I think we have enough evidence to suggest its not quite as simple as that. All the best, Gary

  3. I came across your discussion of Jean Gebser in “The Secret Teachers of the Western World” and found him very interesting. Perhaps you can write a proper biography of him for your next book!

    I have many of your books and have enjoyed them immensely! Keep ’em coming!!!

    • Dear Debby, I’m glad you’re enjoying the book and that I could introduce you to Gebser, who, you may have guess, I consider a very important thinker. I devote several chapters to him in A Secret History of Consciousness and have an essay on him in Revolutionaries of the Soul But I am planning to write a book about him, once I get through current projects and can find a publisher interested in it. I will certainly let you know when it happens. Until then, all the best, Gary

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