I’ve recently heard from Javier Sierra, author of the bestselling The Secret Supper, that the Spanish edition of Politics and the Occult will be released in May. Javier is responsible for having the book come out with Planeta, and for arranging for me to take part in the International Symposium for Occulture that will take place in Madrid and Leon in October. I’ve been reading Javier’s latest work, The Master of the Prado, about the hidden influence of occult ideas on much of western art, and am finding it fascinating. Oddly enough, I’ve also recently heard that the Spanish edition of The Caretakers of the Cosmos has also just come out, with IAO Arte Editorial. With Ediciones Atalanta publishing Spanish editions of my Rudolf Steiner and A Secret History of Consciousness, it looks like I am fairly well represented in the Spanish speaking world.
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.
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.
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.
“The breadth of Gary Lachman’s book is stunning. He argues that esoteric teachers from ancient to modern times have bequeathed us values such as religious freedom and tolerance in addition to profound understandings of spiritual consciousness. The book also serves as a bracing reminder of the historical costs for holding beliefs similar to New Thought. These secret teachers often faced persecution and sometimes martyrdom. Why have these influential teachers been disowned? Lachman turns to current research on the holistic intelligence of the right brain and the rational/logical left brain for answers. At one point, humans relied primarily on the right brain — what the right-wing mystic Rene Schwaller de Lubicz called the “intelligence of the heart.” The right brain is at home with imagination, symbols (think Carl Jung) and mystical awareness of Oneness (think Meister Eckhart). With the advent of left-brain modern consciousness and rational science that believes in only what can be seen and measured, the right brain intelligence of the heart has been disowned. Lachman writes that modern esotericism and the New Age are reactions against the malaise that results from believing reality is found only in the physical world. He says the contemporary spiritual scene is a mix of the shallow sprinkled with the profound. What is needed to address our global problems is an integration of the two sides of our brain — a “Goldilocks” moment akin to the Renaissance where both science and the search for meaning were honored. In this highly recommended, accessible work, Lachman introduces us to the spiritual life of Neanderthals, shamans, Plato, Dante, Jean Gebser (who also influenced Integral theorist Ken Wilber) and many lesser known, but equally fascinating, teachers throughout history.” — HARVEY BISHOP
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.
Have a listen to a conversation about all things secret and gnostic with Miguel Connor and me at Aeon Byte.
Back in 2014 Mark Gilbert interviewed me for an article he had in mind for Science of Mind magazine. As often happens in the world of journalism, the article didn’t appear but Mark kept the recording of our chat and he recently posted it on his Conscious Bridge website. We talked about quite a few things, so many in fact that Mark edited the interview into three parts. In the first part, posted here, I talk about my reading habits in my late teens, my introduction to the occult, and my early days playing rock and roll.
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