The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination

Floris Books has posted the cover art for my new book, The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, which is due out in October of this year. Amazon has it listed as coming out in January 2017, but this is inaccurate. I’ll be posting excerpts from the book closer to publication, but for now let me say that it is a kind of distillation of some of the main themes of The Secret Teachers of the Western World and also of Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin WilsonThe central idea is that of imagination as a cognitive faculty; that is, not as something concerned with ‘make believe’ but with a deeper perception, grasp, and understanding of reality. Oddly enough, as I was writing the book the whole question of ‘reality’ became a hot news item, with our descent into a ‘post-truth’ world make of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’. And soon after finishing it I was commissioned to do a new book about precisely that, about how ‘reality’ seems to have become peculiarly flexible and pliable these days, and subject to the influence of – the imagination. Some kind of sychronicity seems to be at work – or am I letting my imagination get the better of me? You can find out some time next year when Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump sees the light of day.

16 thoughts on “The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination

  1. Hi Gary, I finally finished Secret Teachers. Thanks for writing it. I advised a good friend to read it as well. We’re in Colorado. I also read several books at a time…and thought Scapel and the Soul also very remarkable. As 4 me, I am still editing my muse books…going through the TOC’s this week. I too use Iain as a leading thoughtmaster. Best and Cheers. Steven

    1. I’m glad you liked Secret Teachers. I don’t know the book you mention but will look out for it. As for Trump, well if the Guess Who was controlling him, we might take comfort in the fact that they had no time left for him… Best, Gary

  2. Dear Gary,
    I am really looking forward to your new book. I recently read your thought-proving biography of Colin Wilson and came to your talk about him at Watkins last year. We’d like to invite you to an event at the Lloyds building to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. It’s a drinks reception and gender Think In of 200 leaders in business, culture and policy. It takes place on 29th June, full details at We’d love to email you a formal invitation.
    All good wishes

  3. Hi Gary — looking forward to this book. I’m researching a novel currently, and have found your other books very useful sources! Are you familiar with the work of Patrick Harper, who has pursued a similar theme?

    1. Yes, I’ve read Daimonic Reality, The Philosopher’s Secret Fire, and Mercurius and enjoyed them. I’m glad you’re finding my work helpful. All the best, Gary

  4. Hi Gary,

    I have recently finished your book on Ouspensky and Gurdjieff and have just now finished Caretakers of the Cosmos. While Ouspensky’s strikes me as a tragic tale, and Gurdjieff something of an egotistical charlatan, I have to say that Caretakers is probably my favorite of your books. Once again I have found a whole new list of people to investigate, and I wonder how I’ll ever get to it all.

    I have also recently read the Hermetica and I can see how this very basic thread runs through many of the thinkers you’ve explored. There has been a question that has gnawed at me a bit, however. It seems that Pythagoras probably imported much of his world view from India (I don’t know the history too well here, but perhaps the Indo-European migrations of around 1500 BCE brought the Vedic philosophy into the Greek orbit?), and in my exploration of Hinduism and Vedanta I see quite a bit of overlap. But in your work you don’t really explore those roots much. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that. In particular, Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, though I am only aware of the bare outlines, seems to be quite compatible with yours, but I believe you’ve only mentioned him in passing a few times.

    And also just a thank you for alerting me to Thompson’s The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light. A truly mind-altering book, and I’ve now moved on to Coming into Being. I really appreciate that you both cast a critical and discerning eye upon subject matter than may be otherwise easily dismissed as too fringe to take seriously.


    1. Hello Ben. I’m glad you’re finding Caretakers helpful, but I have to say I’m sorry if my book on Ouspensky led you to feel thatGurdjieff was a charlatan. That is not my reading of him at all. I don’t think he understood Ouspensky, and that was the real message of the book. But I guess we come to our own decisions about these things. As Pythagoras and India, I think there are some stories of him travelling east, but with so many things about him, it’s hard to know what is myth and what true. And yes, Sri Aurobindo has an evolutionary outlook, but for some reason or another I’ve always kept myself pretty focused on western thinkers. This is mainly because they have often been sidelined, with the east being the source of spirituality and wisdom and the west merely “intellectual.” But is really a personal choice and not a reflection of any eastern thinker’s worth. All the best, Gary

  5. Thanks Gary. Yes, I suppose charlatan is too strong a word, and my impression of him comes mostly from what you’ve written as well as listening to Jacob Needleman speak about him. I would have to dig into things further to form a clearer picture. I think what I’m reacting to is his Nietzschean “tough love” and impossible mind games, which is really quite opposed to a more compassionate approach of Rudolf Steiner for example. As for India, the more I learn about the history of their philosophy, the more I can see that it represents a still clear window to an almost lost past, and that they did not have a monopoly on this wisdom but it was widespread through the ancient world in Egypt and the Middle East. I am continually surprised to see these roots in all kinds of Western philosophy, from Heidegger to Hegel to the near-mysticism of Leibniz. And now even the most advanced physics seems to confirm the same worldview. I feel like perhaps the Western intellectualism of Gebser’s mental-rational structure has been almost like a necessary prelude or test for everything coming back together in the new integral structure.

  6. Hi Gary,

    I’m really looking forward to this one, especially your take on Corbin and the Mundus Imaginalis and (possibly) the Illuminationist ishraqi philosophy. Do you know the books of Roberts Avens ‘Imagination is Reality’ and ‘Imaginal Body’? You probably do, otherwise you should.

    The notion of restoring the imagination to a fuller and more foundational ontological position in western ”thought” and cosmology is one of my favorite philosophical topics, and I love pondering connections between, for instance, Iamblichus, Blake, Jung and what has been explored or revealed by Stanislav Grof and similar figures in the psychedelic field. So, pretty excited here!

    1. I hope the book meets your expectations. I devote a chapter to Corbin, some of which involves linking his early phenomenological studies (Heidegger) with his later imaginal work. It is more or less introductory, so someone with a background in his work may find it familiar. Oddly, Grof came up in a lecture I attended about psychedelics and midwifery. It is a strange world. Cheers, Gary

  7. Hello Mr. Lachman . . .

    I’m a student of the Ouspensky teaching and believe that the “Higher Emotions” in that teaching correspond to the “Lataif” of Sufism.

    Among other things, the Lataif are understood by Sufism to provide a comprehensive meaning of our human experience of Music.

    Since that combination seems like it might be of special interest to you, I’m attaching a web page for you to check it out experientially.

    I hope it resonates with you . . . in which case I’d welcome discussing it further.

    Best wishes, Malcolm.

    1. Dear Malcom,

      Many thanks for your comment and also for the link to the web page. I have a cursory knowledge of Sufism, picked up by general reading, although I have gone into some greater depth through studying Henry Corbin’s work on Suhrawardi, who was, I’m sure you know, a great lover of Sufi music. I’m also aware that some of the work has roots in Sufism. Many thanks again for sharing this. By the way, I don’t know if you are in London, but I’ll be giving a talk on Ouspensky on June 19 at the Kensington Central Library. Here is the link: All the best, Gary

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