Here’s a link to a thoughtful and constructive review of Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson by my friend and colleague Richard Smoley, author of How God Became God, Forbidden Faith, and other works on western esotericism. Richard was for many years an editor at Gnosis magazine and is now editor at Quest and his book Inner Christianity is a classic. My review of How God Became God can be found in the September-October issue of New Dawn, no. 158.
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.
Outsiders will have to get their skates on next week. On October 11, I’ll be talking about my new book Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking program. I’ll be speaking with the presenter Matthew Sweet and the writer Suzi Feay, both of whom are fans of Wilson’s work and things off beat in general. The next day I’ll be back in the BBC studios to record an interview for the Wisconsin based talk show To The Best Of Our Knowledge, where I’ll be speaking about Wilson, but also about my work in the history of western esotericism in general. I’m not sure at the moment exactly when that program will be broadcast, but I will post the date when I know. And on the 16th I’ll be talking about Wilson’s time sleeping on Hampstead Heath while writing his first novel Ritual in the Dark at the all-day Folk Horror event being held at the British Museum. Famously, Wilson curled up by night on the Heath in a waterproof sleeping bag , and cycled down to the British Museum in the morning, where he worked on his existential thriller, which is best described as Jack the Ripper meets the Brothers Karamazov. If there is a film to be made of one of Wilson’s’ novels, this is the one.
In recent months I’ve noticed Stephen Greenleaf’s reviews and tweets about my work and have come to appreciate his considered, insightful appraisals and criticisms. So I was chuffed, as they say in the UK, to see that he had written a long, intelligent, and honest review of Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. It’s the kind of review that Colin Wilson himself should have got for some of his books. Notwithstanding Stephen’s reservations about the occult and the afterlife – not to mention Wilson’s own cautious acceptance of them – I feel that if he is not busying himself with more important matters, Wilson may be chuffed – or however one gets on ‘the other side’ – to read what Stephen thinks of the book and its subject himself.
I’ve posted an excerpt from the Introduction to my new book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson on my blog over at the Daily Grail. Greg Taylor, who tends the grail, very kindly tweeted about the excerpt at Reality Sandwich and invited me to share. So here is an account of my journey, some thirty-three years ago, to meet the original Outsider himself.
The good people at Reality Sandwich have posted an excerpt from my new book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, on their website. It’s taken from Chapter Three, “Breakthrough and Backlash,” and introduces the key figure in all of Wilson’s work, the Outsider. Who or what is the Outsider? Click on the link and find out.
Here’s the kind of review every writer wants. Michael Dirda, the Post’s regular reviewer and a Pulitzer Prize winner, gives his readers two reasons to get Beyond The Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. I’ll give you one guess what they are.
I was surprised to see that Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy and much more, followed me on Twitter. But then I knew that he was a reader of Colin Wilson and so perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all. And when I decided to ask him if he would like to read an advanced copy of Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson,I was delighted when he said he would, and even more when he offered to provide an endorsement that my publisher could use. The book could not ask for any better send off. Here’s what he wrote:
“Colin Wilson came to a sudden and unparalleled celebrity with his first book, The Outsider, in 1956, and after that was strenuously ignored by every respectable critic. So much for respectability. Gary Lachman has written an intellectual biography of a writer who might be called the only optimistic existentialist, and done him justice. Wilson was always far better and more interesting than fashionable opinion claimed, and in Lachman he has found a biographer who can respond to the whole range of his work with sympathy and understanding, in a style which, like Wilson’s own, is always immensely readable. I enjoyed Beyond the Robot very much.” —Philip Pullman
Needless to say I am extremely happy he liked the book, and I suspect Colin Wilson is too.
I hope readers will forgive me if I share the historian and cultural critic William Irwin Thompson’s remarks about my book The Secret Teachers of the Western World. In the late 1980s and early ’90s I read Thompson’s books avidly, coming to him, as many readers did, through The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light (1981), Thompson’s study of the rise of human consciousness from its earliest beginnings to the present day. After that I read whatever books of his I could find, and one of the earliest published pieces of my own writing was a review of his The American Replacement of Nature (1991) that I contributed to the Bodhi Tree Book Review, during my tenure at that well-loved but now defunct bookshop. In any case, here’s what he had to say:
“It is no mean feat to make good sense of the Arcana and to cast light on the occult, but Lachman has pulled it off with this most engaging book. THE SECRET TEACHERS OF THE WESTERN WORLD is a very ambitious undertaking most successfully completed.”
Coming from someone whose work I admire this is no small compliment.
Have a listen to a conversation about all things secret and gnostic with Miguel Connor and me at Aeon Byte.