You don’t get these three together that often, although in his early days, Wilson did meet Raine – he tells the story in his account of the Angry Young Men, The Angry Years. I met Wilson and Raine. I wouldn’t be surprised if Raine and Corbin met; I haven’t come across an account of them meeting, but they moved in the same circles and knew the same people. Their reason for appearing here is that I am posting links to two recent lectures. One is another of my ongoing conversations with Jeffrey Mishlove for his New Thinking Allowed series, this time about Colin Wilson. The other is the last lecture in my Lost Knowledge of the Imagination series of talks given for Jeremy Johnson’s excellent Nura Learning site. I write about Wilson in Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson and I write about Henry Corbin and Kathleen Raine in Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, so if you watch the talks and want to know more, those are the best places to start. Once again, happy new year. If enough Outsiders use their imagination, we may just be able to pull this one out of the fire.
Recently I received a copy of Philip Pullman’s new novel The Book of Dust. I have to say I am deep into it and enjoying it immensely. Philip had said some warm words about Beyond the Robot, and my name must have gotten on the list of copies to be sent out. I didn’t expect this and it was a pleasant surprise, as I don’t often get a chance to read fiction. My book, Lost Knowledge of the Imagination, had just come out in the UK, and I sent him a copy in return. Not long after this I saw his comment on my tweet about the book. That was another very nice surprise. “I am reading it now” he wrote “and it is very important.” Well I can say the same about The Book of Dust. I am reading it now, and it is very important – and a very good read too.
Another book I am happy to see is the new Aristeia Press edition of Colin Wilson’s Religion and the Rebel. This was Wilson’s follow-up to The Outsider, and, as I say in my Introduction, it almost ended Wilson’s career. The critical response to Wilson’s second effort was as unlike that to his first as could be imagined. From hailed as a boy genius, Wilson was vilified as a fraud, and sent to literary Coventry. This had little to do with the book itself, which is a serious and passionate exploration of a possible religious answer to the Outsider’s existential dilemma. Wilson examines the lives of Pascal, Boehme, Swedenborg, and Kierkegaard, looks at the Outsider against the historical vision of Toynbee and Spengler, and contrasts the philosophy of Whitehead and Wittgenstein in light of his aim: to extend the range of human consciousness. Reading this fine new edition of a central work in Wilson’s Outsider Cycle may be one means of doing just that.
Here’s a link to a recent interview with Curtis Childs for his web series “Swedenborg and Life.” My book on Swedenborg was the occasion, but the topics covered ranged far and wide, from my early days in the Blank Generation to my upcoming work on the occult politics surrounding Precedent Trump. In between we ramble about the western esoteric tradition and its place in modern culture, the unnecessary split between science and mysticism, and resurgence of ‘mind magic’ and ‘mental science’ in recent years, and the ability of the internet to affect ‘real life’…
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.
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 a review of The Secret Teachers of the Western World at the New York Journal of Books. I am glad the reviewer pointed this out: “This narrative of the history of these ideas could be stultifying or confusing for non-specialists and the curious. Luckily Mr. Lachman creates a history of ideas that fascinates and excites.” That’s what a good history of ideas should do.
Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of the new edition of the book that started it all, Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, with a new foreword by me. It will be published later this year by Penguin Random House, who are also publishing my introduction to Wilson’s life and work, Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. Needless to say it was an honour for me to write the foreword, as it was to write my forewords to Wilson’s brilliant phenomenological novels The Mind Parasites and The God of Labyrinth. Last year I was asked to write an Introduction to Gurdjieff’s classic spiritual adventure story, Meetings With Remarkable Men. I count myself lucky to be able to introduce these important works in the evolution of consciousness to a new generation of readers.