Showing posts from September, 2016

Moving beyond the Robot

What if the world ‘as it really is’ is the one you see when in your most joyous state of mind? When your perception reaches out and dances; and, everything you see, even the most mundane thing, is full of its own life, resonating harmoniously? And if so, what is it, without or within us, that inhibits our ability to dwell there permanently?
Believing in and articulating the reality of the first proposition and seeking a comprehensive answer to the second was Colin Wilson's life's work. That work was carried out as a writer, working in both fiction and non-fiction, as lecturer and television presenter. The work poured forth, over fifty years, and explored a wide range of subject matter - philosophy, psychology, the occult, crime, sexology, literature, archaeology and science. He ignored T.S. Eliot's advice not to write as much and, as Gary Lachman shows in this exemplary intellectual biography, this veritable flood was shaped by a guiding set of core concerns and correspond…

What I most lack is?

In Western Europe in the eleventh century, I might have answered 'assurance of salvation'. The world had not ended in 1000 and so corporate salvation was postponed.  Thus, the focus shifted from this corporate transformation (though it always remained a possibility) to personal achievement.

How is my lack, my sinfulness to be addressed? By developing a juridical system whereby Jesus has liberated us from past debt - St Anselm's penal substitution theory of the atonement - and, going forward, the Church will catalogue sins and develop ways of penance - private confession, or a pilgrimage and that gold star of penitential acts - a Crusade. It will 'invent' purgatory, so even death will not present an insuperable obstacle if 'you have n't made it' yet. Lack is addressed by a living system full of present act and future promise.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, what do I most lack? I might still answer 'assurance of salvation' though even …

Boldly going

As a child, every Monday evening I would wait hopefully for my aunt to ring. Not because I wanted to speak to her or even hear her news but because it would take my mother away from the television set. Her desire was to watch a particular soap, mine was to watch the original series of Star Trek as, once more, it was recycled. This time on prime time on the BBC.

I cannot say that any of its sophisticated promotion of humanist values made any surface impression on my mind. I was interested in the characters, the unfolding plots and the sense of dangers overcome. Nevertheless as Gaston Bachelard remarked the depths are touched before they reach the surfaces so I fully expect that Star Trek was one of my tutors in liberalism.
I have been re-watching in this its fiftieth year the original series (courtesy of Netflix) and find myself periodically pausing to reflect on how it resonates.
First I am struck by the obvious probing of the relationship of the rational and the emotional. The two n…

Second Sight

Harry is walking down off the hills with his gillie, Alick, after a day's deer stalking. Alick is suddenly arrested in his tracks and watches intently at a scene only he can see. Harry vividly notices and, on interrogation, Alick reluctantly reveals what he has seen. A dead man carried by four others. It is a future prophecy. Alick is afflicted with the second sight.

From this incident, Neil M Gunn, weaves his novel, 'Second Sight' that comes to its tragic denouement as foretold, leaving you with the question whether the prophecy itself has become the mechanism of its very fulfilment?

The novel is not one of Gunn's best as the plot feels too contrived a mechanism by which Gunn works out what he himself thinks about such 'paranormal' phenomena as 'Second Sight'. Where do they sit in the nature of things? Where do they sit within the material world, as delusions or as experiences yet to be explained? How, if they are real, do they relate to any wider spi…