A prolific and well documented writer and historian on consciousness, the occult, philosophy, the esoteric, phenomenology, magic, spirituality… With the coolest past (and present). Gary Lachman is also one of the founding members of Blondie and its base guitarist. He has recently published Beyond the Robot, The life and work of Colin Wilson. A must!
Excerpt from his historical introduction to this new edition of Religion and the Rebel:
“The Outsider, for Wilson, was “the heroic figure of our time,” but he was, it seemed, a hero in a vacuum. “My vision of civilization,” he wrote, “ was a vision of cheapness and futility, the degrading of all intellectual standards.” Western civilization, he felt, was going down the tubes, something that in different ways, Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler – another Outsider historian – both argued, and Wilson saw his Outsiders appearing “like pimples on a dying civilization.” Wilson’s exasperation with the celebration of mediocrity characteristic of the time – and, I might say, our own – led to some strong stuff. The Outsider was “the man who, for any reason at all, felt himself lonely in the crowd of the second rate.”
Nicolas Tredell is a freelance writer and formerly taught Literature, Film, Drama and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, UK. He is the series editor of Palgrave Macmillan’s Readers’ Guides to Essential Criticism series. His tally of published work includes twenty books and over 350 essays, articles and reviews.
“Religion and the Rebel is a fascinating book that pursues the question of how to achieve a greater intensity of consciousness which will lift us above the trivialities of everyday living and enable us to take the next upward step in human evolution. It stresses that religion is crucial to a thriving civilization but that religious institutions can grow rigid, forcing those who seek visionary experience to become rebels – but their rebellion, carefully analysed and sifted for its positive potential, can help to form the basis of the affirmative philosophy that Wilson would later call the New Existentialism. Religion and the Rebel is characteristically wide-ranging, making unexpected but inspired connections between a vivid variety of figures from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, including Boehme, Pascal, Newman, Shaw, Wittgenstein and Whitehead. As always, Wilson combines an eye for intriguing detail with a grasp of the big picture, a sense of life’s rich particulars with a bold and comprehensive vision of human possibility.”
A reference for Colin Wilson’s work and the themes he wrote about managed by Philip Coulthard.
“Defying the critical mauling which could have sunk other writers, Wilson ploughed straight ahead with his second book and developed his “phenomenological existentialism” with arguments that remain as lucid in 2017 as they did in 1957. Religion and the Rebel is an overlooked classic.” Philip Coulthard
Interviews, articles, news and a very complete information about Colin Wilson’s work.
Geoff Ward, writer, poet, musician. Founder of Colin Wilson World.
‘Religion and the Rebel’, Colin Wilson’s compelling sequel to ‘The Outsider’, is his seminal work on the development of ‘visionary consciousness’, the subject which became his lifelong key preoccupation: the ‘Outsider problem’ – how to learn the mental disciplines by which we can raise ourselves into states of mystical perception leading to self-transformation.
Wilson’s original title for ‘Religion and the Rebel’ was ‘Spiritual Reformers’, perhaps a more descriptive and appealing title for readers today, 60 years on from when the book was first published. In it, Wilson explores his Outsider concept more deeply and at the same time tackles the related historical problem – surely even more pressing today than in the 1950s – of the decline of civilisations.
He says civilisations collapse when they lose control over their own complexity, and they start to lose control as soon as they begin to think in materialist categories because, ultimately, ‘all power is spiritual power’, the vital sense that keeps us healthy.
Thus the problems of western civilisation cannot be solved by materialism but only on an Outsider basis: ‘The Outsider is the key to the decline of the West,’ Wilson states. But it is no longer just the Outsider problem – the ultimate metaphysical issue of the unreality of life – but also the practical problem of modern society.
The West’s tradition of over-emphasising the intellect goes back to the Renaissance, but Wilson’s message – increasingly urgent in today’s troubled times – is that there is a parallel tradition to be revived: a spiritual, or existentialist, one capable of influencing human nature and destiny, and pulling us back from ‘the edge of a last decline’.
Paupers’ Press has a very interesting catalog of studies about Colin Wilson’s work as well as Colin Wilson’s books.
Colin Stanley is the Managing Editor of Paupers’ Press. He is Wilson’s bibliographer and author of Colin Wilson’s ‘Outsider Cycle’: a guide for students; Colin Wilson’s ‘Occult Trilogy’: a guide for students, Colin Wilson’s Existential Criticism: a guide for students; and An Evolutionary Leap: Colin Wilson and Psychology.
Except from his essay included in his book Colin Wilson’s Outsider Cycle: a guide for students:
“Religion and the Rebel, Wilson’s sequel to The Outsider, was published by Victor Gollancz on October 21, 1957 and commences with a thirty-six page ‘Autobiographical Introduction’—a first attempt by the author to present his vision, “…and then to carry my sense of urgency back into my own personal life.” This marks the beginning of an important stage in Wilson’s writing—a trend which permeates his subsequent work—triggered by the need to demonstrate that his philosophy is not just words on paper but ideas that can and should be proved by living. Personal anecdote becomes an integral part of his message, helping to illuminate it, making it accessible to his audience—certainly one of the reasons why he has retained a loyal readership over the years.”
The University has recently acquired a collection of the work of the English philosopher/author Colin Wilson. The collection comes from Wilson’s bibliographer Colin Stanley [1952- ].
A website (and an Institute) dedicated to the works and philosophy of Ayn Rand. Her philosophy that she called Objectivism is in her own words: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” We just love it!
A beautiful and elegant blog in French by a mysterious Prince with a fascinating selection of paintings. The Romantic and Symbolist sections are just wonderful. A haven of peace and beauty. A “place” to dream away from modernity.
Valancourt Books is an independent small press located in Richmond, VA. Is specialised in the rediscovery of rare, neglected, and out-of-print fiction. It has published several Colin Wilson’s novels. Horror books, Mystery Books, Gothic Books… We love it!
A very interesting source for those who like philosophy. Includes articles about Colin Wilson.
Brain Pickings has a free weekly interestingness digest. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles.
One of our favourite pages online. A must for those who want to know what is to be a man. Great values and stimulating articles.
An amazing catalog of books in several languages to read on any device by subscription. Like Spotify but for books. Great for book lovers.