Steven Greenleaf has written a very insightful review of my first book, a collection of essays on Wilsonian themes that Colin Stanley at Paupers’ Press took a chance on publishing back in 1994, unambiguously entitled Two Essays on Colin Wilson. It is somewhat humbling to recognize that one’s juvenilia was written in one’s late thirties – but then I’ve always thought of myself as a late bloomer, at least in terms of writing. Some encouragement, perhaps, to others who have put off getting their thoughts down on paper – or a computer screen – until their later years. Some of the material on William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller later found a home in Turn Off Your Mind and originally started life as an essay for a film class when I was working an a soon-to-be-aborted Ph.D in English Literature at USC. My professor thought my criticism of Burroughs etc was “vitiated by moral snipping” – remarkable what we remember. I doubt if the professor, Leo Braudy, author of The Frenzy of Renown, remembers it though.
Here is a link to a video of a talk I gave at Watkins Bookshop here in London on Friday November 11. Watkins is the oldest and most well-known of London’s esoteric and occult bookshops, having catered to a clientele that included W. B. Yeats, Aleister Crowley, and Mick Jagger – Sir Mick, I mean. It’s a landmark spot, on Cecil Court, an atmospheric alley off Charring Cross Road in the West End, lined with rare book stores and memorabilia shops. I talk about my latest book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, to an appreciative crowd. Watkins has a publishing wing and in recent years has released new editions of some of Wilson’s work, specifically The Occult and Beyond the Occult; they also published one of Wilson’s last works, Superconsciousness.
Here’s a link to an interview I did recently with Gordon White on his pungent Rune Soup website. Gordon knows his Wilson – and much else besides – and as usual, we discuss many things over a wide range of topics, most of which have something to do with Wilson, existentialism, phenomenology, the occult, consciousness, and what place the Outsider has in our day and age.
I recently had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Jeffrey J. Kripal about my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World for the Reality Sandwich website. For those of you who don’t know, Jeffrey is one of the most exciting and thought provoking academic thinkers working in the ‘alternative’ milieu today; among his many books are Mutants and Mystics, Authors of the Impossible, and most recently, The Super Natural, co-written with Whitley Strieber. I am flattered and honored that Jeff took the time to read and think about my book and to ask the kinds of questions writers like to answer. Here’s a link to the interview.
Here is a review of The Secret Teachers of the Western World from the Library Journal:
Lachman (Evolution of Consciousness, California Inst. of Integral Studies; Politics of the Occult) presents this work as “a serious study of our ‘rejected knowledge’ and an engagement with some of the people pursuing it today” and successfully achieves his first goal of a scholarly study of the “rejected” knowledge of the Western esoteric tradition. This comprehensive history engagingly traces a way of thinking and living that was often at the margins of accepted Western society. While it would be easy to sensationalize such a past, Lachman deftly navigates between the extremes of presenting a unified “conspiracy” behind hermeticism and a polemical attack on its opponents. It is an academic work, not a practitioner’s guide, which ranges from discussions on Plato to Carl Jung and onto the New Age as well as current explorations in alternative spiritual traditions. Lachman further briefly considers important mystics from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions who informed the esoteric tradition. VERDICT This solid introduction to occult and esoteric history provides a sensible foundation for any reader who finds appeal in the current interest in participatory spirituality as distinct from simply holding specific religious beliefs.—Daniel Wigner, South Plains Coll., Lubbock, TX
I’ve put up an excerpt from The Secret Teachers of the Western World on my blog at The Daily Grail. It’s titled “Dante’s Inner Journey” and it shows how one of the classics of western literature is informed with ideas and insights coming from the western esoteric tradition. Please share the link if you can and spread the world.
I’ve uploaded an essay, “Mystical Experience and the Evolution of Consciousness: 21st Century Gnosis” to the Academia.edu website, where you can download it. It’s the text to a talk I gave at the 2014 Engelsberg Seminar held in Avesta, Sweden. Other contributors included Elaine Pagels, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Marco Pasi, and A. N. Wilson, to mention a few. The seminars are presented by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, a wonderfully open-minded philanthropic establishment.
The talk links recent developments in split-brain research with the experience of gnosis and the evolution of consciousness. It presents more or less the basic idea that I develop at greater length in The Secret Teachers of the Western World.