Germany, Japan, Italy? It’s not the Axis Powers but Dark Stars and Lost Knowledge.

I will be in Calw, Germany, later this month giving a talk on the Lost Knowledge of the Imagination at a conference on “The Crisis of the Ego” held by the Rosicrucian Society on October 20-21. Calw is the birthplace of Hermann Hesse, whose books I devoured as a teenager in the early 1970s, along with several million other of his posthumous readers. Some years ago I visited Hesse’s home in Montagnola, Switzerland, where he lived until his death in 1962. Seeing his birthplace completes the circle as it were.

I’m looking forward to the conference for several reasons, but an especial one is that I will have a chance to see my friend Rudiger Sunner’s new film, about the poet Rainer Maria Rilke – another German language writer whose work I’ve read and re-read more times than I can remember. Angel Over Europe: Rilke as God Seeker promises to be a spiritually insightful and culturally significant work – if any of Rudiger’s other films are anything to go by.

The Japanese and Italian rights to Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump have been sold. My Italian publisher, Tlon – their name comes from Jorge Luis Borges’ story “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, about an imaginary country – has asked me to write an introduction to the Italian edition, bringing the book up-to-date on events in Europe and especially in Italy, with the rise of the populist movement there, spurred on by Steve Bannon’s European crusade. I’m glad that my editor feels the book is very timely, but concerned that as its relevance increases, the dangers it points to increase as well.

I also have an article spelling out the differences between the “ancient wisdom,” perennial philosophy, and Traditionalism in the latest issue of New Dawn. The people there have been very helpful with suggestions and material useful for my current project, a book about the “return of Holy Russia” that I am doing for Inner Traditions and which I assume will be out sometime next year. I never thought I’d be writing a kind of mini-history of Russia but destiny doesn’t always announce itself ahead of schedule. I’m glad I’ve had a reason to go back and re-read early inspirations such as Dostoyevsky, the Christian existentialist Nikolai Berdyaev, and the tragic genius Gogol, among others, and also to explore new material. A lot has been churned up by our recent plunge into occult politics, but it isn’t only the nasty bits that rise to the surface.

And I am happy to announce that one of the rarest of Colin Wilson’s early works, his collection of essays on writers and literature, Eagles and Earwigs, has been published in a new edition. It’s edited by Wilson bibliographer Colin Stanley, published by Todd Swift at Eyewear Publishing, and has a preface by me, recounting, among other things, my visit to Wilson back in 1983 and my joy at finding a copy of the book at the old Reading Room of the British Museum. You may not be able to meet the author, but you can have the pleasure of reading his assessment of writers like Ayn Rand, John Cowper Powys, David Lindsay, L H. Myers and others.

5 thoughts on “Germany, Japan, Italy? It’s not the Axis Powers but Dark Stars and Lost Knowledge.

  1. I too read Hermann Hesse during my teenage years in the Sixties, and curiosity led me to reopen Narcissus and Goldmund. I found it unreadable, I wonder if I would have the same reaction with Magister Ludi.

    1. I guess it depends on a number of things. A few years back I re-read some of his early novels – Gertrude, Rosshalde – and found that they moved along nicely. It’s not uncommon for a book that moved us at one time to leave us cold at another. It may even move us again further on. I find Steppenwolf retains a rawness and relevance to a central obsession of mine, the kinds of characters Colin Wilson calls the Outsider. Also, Hesse’s essays on Dostoyevsky hold up. But then, I re-read some Dostoyevsky recently and genius un-denied, he can be shrill. Henry Miller was a favorite of mine in my teens. I can’t get through more than a page or two of him now. Things change – or rather we do.

  2. Will the ringing cedars be part of the Holy Russia book? I got the impression that they’d had an impact in Russia. I read them maybe a couple of years ago now and they made a strange impression because of the mix of myth and real world impact, back to nature sort of thing.

    I just finished reading your book on Steiner, many thanks for writing that I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is a welcome addition to my Steiner collection, it was clear sympathetic and outlined his thought in a nicely straight forward way. I think you did a genuine service with that as I think he as a thinker hasn’t been fully explored and he has a lot left to offer.

    I too read Henry Miller when I was young and can’t read him now, He wrote to John Cowper Powys who I do still read. it’s a little while since I read Hesse but last time I read I still enjoyed his work. But yes, our relation to various writers does change over time I love it that I have relationships with writers that have grown and changed over my lifetime.

    1. Many thanks, and I’m glad you enjoyed the Steiner book. And yes, Miller was a fan of Powys and oddly enough I’ve been re-reading Powys myself of late. He does hold up, although in his philosophical self-help books he can be repetitious.

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