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In a wonderful example of synchronicity the programme was broadcast from the very auditorium which now holds his archive., a symposium, published by 0-Books in 2011, to celebrate Colin Wilson’s 80th birthday.For some years Simon has been working on a project to digitalise Colin’s journal which he had recorded onto hundreds of cassette tapes over the years. His enlightening paper contained many quotes from Lovecraft and also touched upon Colin Wilson’s ambivalent attitude to the author’s work.There are many works that attempt to achieve this goal of absolute proof or disproof; few are agnostic.
[It’s] about men like Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, van Gogh, T. Lawrence and William Blake, who have clear glimpses of a more powerful and meaningful way of living, yet who find themselves on the brink of suicide or insanity because of the frustration of their everyday life.” (2019: 275) Now what is often overlooked is that .
To begin to understand Wilson’s update of existentialism – the philosophy defined most famously by the French philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus – is to then understand the trajectory of all of his life’s work.
In this paper he argued, very convincingly, that , delivered the last paper.
He chose, not surprisingly, to speak on Colin Wilson’s transcendental theory of evolution in an attempt to provide a link between recent scientific research and Colin Wilson’s ideas.
And this provides an insight into why – and how – he went about approaching the bizarre subject of UFOs and extra-terrestrials. For now, let’s turn to two summaries, in his own words, of this ‘new’ existentialism: “The ‘new existentialism’ accepts man’s experience of his inner freedom as basic and irreducible.
Our lives consist of a clash between two visions: our vision of this inner freedom, and our vision of contingency; our intuition of freedom and power, and our everyday feeling of limitation of boredom.” (1966: 180) “The ‘new existentialism’ concentrates the full battery of phenomenological analysis upon the everyday sense of contingency, upon the problem of ‘life devaluation’.” “It [also] suggests mental disciplines through which this waste of freedom can be averted.” (Ibid.) All of his subsequent works contain – whether it’s on crime, the occult, wine or music – insights into the essential mechanisms of the mind and are threaded through with this recognition of a phenomenology of heightened states of consciousness.
Even amongst the Angry Young Men, Wilson was an outsider – he even said that he wasn’t angry at all.
His literary reputation – a seemingly inevitable destiny once touched upon by British journalists – became increasingly marginalised shortly before his second book in 1957, , and why has it, out of all his 150 or so books, stood the test of time – indeed receiving so many translations and republications over the years?
In fact, he was a bit of an anomaly himself in intellectual circles of the time.
Except that he was quickly heaped in with the ‘Angry Young Men’ – a journalist’s catchphrase for an uprising of mainly young working-class, sometimes anti-establishment figures, such as Stuart Holroyd, Bill Hopkins and John Osbourne, who wrote the famous play ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, the namesake of the movement.