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.
“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
Here are links to two recent interviews, one with Dave Halpin at Occultum, the other with Greg Kaminsky at Occult of Personality. Both more or less center around The Secret Teachers of the Western World.
In other news, I’ve finished doing the final proofs for Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, and may even have some bound uncorrected copies to show off at the Colin Wilson Conference at Nottingham University next month. This should prove to be an interesting gathering; Wilson scholars from across the globe will be speaking on many things Wilsonian. I’m giving a talk on Faculty X and how some sense of the importance of grasping the reality of “other times and places” was part of Wilson’s philosophy from the start. And I should mention that my third online course for the Californian Institute of Integral Studies is up and running. This summer we are doing “The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination,” the subject – and title – of my next book, due in 2017 for Floris Books.
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.