On 23 September I’ll be taking part in the Dion Fortune Seminar, held in Glastonbury Town Hall. Dion Fortune was one of the major figures in twentieth century occultism. She was the author of many books, including the The Mystical Qabalah, probably the most influential work of popular kabbalism, and a central work in the Golden Dawn canon. She was also the author of some gripping occult novels, of which The Sea Priestess is probably the best known. Fortune was a fascinating character and, as most magicians do, led an interesting life. I write about her in Revolutionaries of the Soul and am delighted to have been invited to speak at this annual event. My talk, “Psychic Self-Defense: How to Stay Safe During the War on Reality,” will draw on Fortune’s own experiences of psychic attack, recounted in her classic Psychic Self-Defense, and will look at how these can help us in our age of meme-magic and post-truth, in which the very character of reality seems to be under siege.
Yesterday I submitted the manuscript of my new book, Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, to Mitch Horowitz, my editor at Tarcher/Perigee. Mitch must like it, at least that’s how I read his tweet about it. It’s a report on the strange “occult politics” that seems to have come out of the shadows with the recent US presidential election, and which I discovered has been at work in Russia for some years prior to this. Researching it I came upon some odd pairings, between “positive thinking” and chaos magick, Traditionalism and a resurgent Russia, and a cartoon frog and postmodernism, to name a few. The book will be out next year. In the meantime you can look forward to The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination which will be available in the fall. In a sense Dark Star Rising begins where Lost Knowledge ends.
I’m sure you all have much better things to do today than to read this, but when you get a chance I’d like to mention that I’ve just finished my twentieth book. It’s called The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination and it will be published by Floris Books in spring 2017. Floris publishes three of my books in the UK: Rudolf Steiner, The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus, and The Caretakers of the Cosmos. The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination develops an idea that runs throughout The Secret Teachers of the Western World, namely that the imagination is not, as we tend to believe it is, a means of evading reality and of entering a world of ‘make believe’, but a faculty first and foremost of knowing and influencing reality. I try to bring this message across by looking at the work of Goethe, Owen Barfield, Henry Corbin, Kathleen Raine, Ernst Junger, and others who understood that the imagination is a unique faculty we possess that enables us to reach ‘inside’ reality and know it from within. I will post an excerpt as we get closer to the publication date.
I’ve also just received a commission from my US publisher, Tarcher Penguin, now Tarcher Perigee, for Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. The book will look at the influence ‘mental science’ and ‘positive thinking’ has had on Trump’s rise to power, and will explore the links between the new ‘alt.right’ movement within the political far right and the political philosophy of the Italian esotericist Julius Evola. I will also look at the influence Alexandr Dugin, a radical political theorist influenced by Evola, ‘chaos magick’ and Martin Heidegger,has on the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In different ways both Trump and Putin seek to destabilize the west and reshape the political and economic map of Europe. With this in mind I will look at the possible connection – if any – between the European Union and a strange political philosophy that began in the late nineteenth century and according to some reports had a hidden but effective influence on European politics. This is what is known as Synarchy, the complete opposite of anarchy. Anarchy means no government; Synarchy means total government. I write about Synarchy in Politics and the Occult and Dark Star Rising will pick up my account of the occult influence on modern politics from where I left it in 2008.
And speaking of Politics and the Occult, I’ve recently heard from Javier Sierra, author of the bestselling The Secret Supper that the Spanish publisher Planeta has bought the translation rights to that book! I’ve learned that Javier is a reader of my books, and he is sending me a copy of his latest, The Master of the Prado, which I look forward to reading in the new year.
And let me say a very big Thank You to the people who make writing a worthwhile, even necessary occupation: You. The Secret Teachers of the Western World has done very well in the year it has been out. Not a bestseller, but a decent one and a book, I hope, that people will go to if they want to get a good idea of the esoteric history of the west. And I have to thank my editor Mitch Horowitz, author of One Simple Idea and other books, for taking a chance on Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, a book that is very important to me and which it was an honor and pleasure to write. All the best for the time ahead.
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.
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.
My new book, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, will be published on August 30. If you haven’t decided yet whether or not to get a copy, these reviews by seasoned Wilson scholars should help you make the right choice. David Moore is a brilliant Wilsonian; I had the great pleasure of meeting him at the First International Colin Wilson Conference held on July 1, 2016, at Nottingham University, home of the Colin Wilson Archive. I have not met Thomas Bertonneau, but I have read his work and am happy that he found the book worthy of an extensive and detailed review. If you know others who are as yet undecided, encourage them to read these reviews, and to recognize that it is high time for all of us to get beyond the robot.
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.