Get Beyond the Robot and in the Zone

Here’s link to an interview I did recently with Tom Evans for his podcast The Zone Show. We talk about my latest book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, but also about quite a few other things. The sound quality is a bit choppy in places, but overall it was a good interview. Enjoy.

I have to say that I’ve been touched by the many comments here and on Facebook from people who have read Beyond the Robot. It is inspiring and encouraging to hear from people who loved Colin Wilson’s work or who came across him for the first time through my book, and have gone on to read his own books. That was the idea. I think that in our time of ‘post truth’, ‘alternative facts’ and other high but dangerous weirdness, Colin’s ideas about how we can become more consciousness are needed more than ever.

16 thoughts on “Get Beyond the Robot and in the Zone

  1. I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t read BTR but it’s on my list and I promise I’ll get there soon. TSFHT was A+ and your interviews are sterling. Here’s food for thought – connect the dots between science, post-modernism, post-truth and Big Data. No surprise Cambridge Analytica aids post-truthers. The antidote to post-truth is the meta-truth of the greatest human mythical narrative: the outsider’s search for meaning, which is the hero’s journey. The king’s son, lost in the wilderness, returns with wisdom and courage to save the kingdom (Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Simba from Disney’s “Lion King” etc.). Myths are maps of initiations that lead to ultimate truths – ultimate meta-truths that are true for all humans in all times and all places and all cultures. That’s the Perennial Wisdom, and the more who embody it the greater our chances of saving the world. Be well!

  2. It seems rather tragic that visionary knowledge has been relegated to a realm termed esoteric or rejected knowledge when in truth vision is a vital capacity of human consciousness. I read Beyond the Robot and Revolutionaries of the Soul as well as the brilliant Secret Teachers of the Western World in the last month. I have read many of the books in your bibliography included within Secret Teachers yet your writing has led me to want to read so much more! For a long time I have been a devotee of the writings of Kathleen Raine. Her writings complemented my discovery of the poetry of William Blake in my undergraduate university years. After your three wonderful books I have been reading the three volumes of her Autobiography: Farewell Happy Fields, The Land Unknown, and now The Lion’s Mouth. They are among the best books I have ever read because of their dedication to telling the Truth about the course of a life as well as their insights into the wellsprings of poetic imagination which is not just the heritage of a poet but rather a legacy we all share if we but remember it. I highly recommend these three books as examples of the finest Literature ever written. As with the prose of the American Contemporary poet, W.S. Merwin, I find that the prose of a poet is perhaps the best prose one can read. I very much look forward to your upcoming book on the Imagination!

    1. I’m glad Secret Teachers and the other books have brought you to Kathleen Raine. Her work has been a great influence on me, ever since I read Defending Ancient Springs sometime in the 1980s. Her defense of the poetic, imaginative tradition in western consciousness has informed much of what I have written, and should be better known, especially as a particularly authoritarian idea of Tradition – Guenon’s variant – seems to have gained a monopoly on the notion of tradition itself. I interviewed Kathleen many years ago and we met a few times here in London. She didn’t care for Guenon etc. precisely because he cared little for imagination and more for a kind of ‘scholastic esotericism’. I devote a chapter of The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination to her but the whole book is more or less dedicated to her work. Cheers, Gary

      1. Gary, I’m another fan of your secret-teachers book…about halfway through. I enjoy Wilson, Gooch and our Nean’s.
        Thanks for writing and the tip on Raines. I have a series of Muse books coming out next year…and they too extend Iain’s notions…Best, Steven

  3. Hi Gary,
    Reading your book on Madame Blavatsky and have come across a reference to a piece you wrote many years ago: “The Fate of the Earth According to Rudolf Steiner.” Is this available in any of your books? A search turned up Revolutionaries of the Soul, but I’m wondering if your book on Steiner would also have it. As always I’m enjoying learning about things I wish I learned long ago. Thanks so much,

    1. Hi Ben. Sadly that article isn’t in Revolutionaries. It was in an issue of Gnosis Magazine long ago, as you say. I may have a xerox of it around somewhere. If you email me a street address, I’ll see if I can post you a copy. Cheers, Gary

      1. Dear Gary,
        I have a keen interest in both Spiritual Science and popular culture- a little like your self for many many years. I have written a number of books ( and albums) around pop music with a slight esoteric slant, mostly inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, and I am currently finishing off a book on the esoteric aspects of the Beatles. The reason why I’m writing to you her, I was looking for a more direct method of contact but this was all I could find :), I would very much like to get your opinion on the book and possibly suggest you to the publisher as a kind of reviewer of the book.
        If this is at all possibly, it would be great but it would also be great just to be able to share with individuals like yourself info and knowledge on subjects such as spiritual science and popular culture.

        Many kind regards and many thanks for the work you have done in the areas of pop music and spiritual science/ esotericism


  4. Hi Gary,

    I have just finished “A Secret History of Consciousness” and I am amazed that it was written 14 years ago. Our predicament has only increased and intensified since then, but particularly in the last chapters on Barfield and Gebser you hit the nail on the head in diagnosing the problems associated with the demise of the mental-rational structure.

    In a moment of synchronicity, as I was finishing your book I also watched the recent documentary “HyperNormalisation” by Adam Curtis. It’s very interesting and complementary to watch it through the lens of Steiner, Barfield and Gebser. Curtis focuses on Trump quite a bit, and I found myself thinking that a good subtitle for the film could be “The Education of Steve Bannon.” The film is very dark and fairly depressing, even if truly depicting our world now. It also confirms Barfield’s fears about the dark side of manipulating and playing with reality, going all the way back first to Kissinger, then to Reagan and on and on to the present day of our “post-truth” world.

    However, in another moment of synchronicity I also watched a documentary called “The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner.” This seems to provide the positive path that is called for by Curtis, though the world is not yet ready or willing to embrace it. But the fact that this culture exists is hopeful in itself.

    Here is a link to a short interview with Curtis that nicely sums up his view in the film:

    I find myself thinking more and more about Barfield’s focus on polarity, and that perhaps these two visions, one dark and one light, actually create each other. Perhaps the breakdown of the mental-rational structure, depicted so well by Curtis, is necessary so that it can give way to an integral structure more along the lines of Steiner. It may be only beginning now, but one may hope nonetheless. Another way of saying it is that perhaps a crisis is necessary before growth and change may occur, however painful that may be.

    Thanks again for another great book.

    1. I know Adam Curtis and have watched his documentaries with a kind of morbid enchantment with what is happening in the world today. Do you know The Century of the Self? That is another brilliant work of his. Oddly enough I also know Jonathan Stedall, who did The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner. He worked for the BBC and did a very good doc on the Camphill Community, the schools Steiner set up for people with special needs. I agree that the breakup we are experiencing has the potential to clear the way for Gebser’s ‘integral’ structure of consciousness which I believe is not that different from how Barfield envisions what he calls ‘final participation’ – but I imagine you would have gathered that from Secret History. Here’s a link to a short documentary on Barfield, which I worked on ages ago, before I met him and while living in Los Angeles. It was made by G. B. Tennyson, from UCLA, one of the few academic thinkers that understood Barfield’s importance. I spent several days transcribing about 20 hours worth of recording Tennyson made with Barfield; after that I felt I had got to know him fairly well. I even get a credit. I met Barfield in ’96, soon after I relocated here and spent an afternoon interviewing him. A remarkable character and, like Barzun, a very long liver. He and Gebser – whose work he didn’t know – both understood that the transition to the new consciousness would not be a picnic, or a rave, as many New Agers and ‘archaic revivalists’ believe, but a very difficult, demanding time. It seems they were right. I’m hoping to start Dark Star Rising next month; my deadline is September, so I’ll be banging it out pretty quickly. I’ve been reading books on Hitler and Mussolini – particularly Laurence Rees Hitler’s Charisma and Denis Mack Smith’s Mussolini. I know it is easy to make wild comparisons but the two do seem to have some things in common with Trump. All the best, Gary

  5. Thanks, Gary. I actually watched the Barfield video a few months back after hearing you talk about him in one of your interviews. The Century of the Self is next in my queue, and I’ve just watched episode 1, which ended with the rise of the Nazis. The parallels between then and now are disturbing, as you say. Very much looking forward to the book.

  6. Since my original rapid read-through, which I reviewed on Amazon as Northumbrian, I have found myself going back and rereading sections of Beyond the Robot – not just a few times, but many times. I really appreciate what you did with that book, thank you. BTW I used to contribute to Abraxas, which was where I first encountered your work.

    1. Hello Bruce. Yes, I remember you from Abraxas – it’s sad it and Paul Newman are no longer with us. Many thanks for your message. I am glad you are getting so much from the book. I’ve just written up a talk I gave at The British Museum last year on Colin’s early days at the British Museum Reading Room and will be giving another talk on the Outsider Cycle next month in Brighton. So I am keeping the flame burning. All the best, Gary

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