Monday, December 9, 2013
Colin Wilson, author of The Outsider and The Occult: A History, passed away this week. He was 82 years old. This overview covering Wilson's incredibly rocky career kick-off is very interesting stuff, indeed, and a must-read for any and all fans of this amazingly prolific personality, whether you favor his pioneering true crime work, his "unsolved mysteries" compilations, his literary criticism or his fiction (the Spider-World series being particularly fun juvenilia).
Personally, I've always been of two minds about Wilson. On the one hand, at his best, he's a crafter of compulsively readable books about undeniably intriguing subjects. The aforementioned The Occult, from 1971, is a classic of the genre, with an encyclopedic breadth topped only, perhaps, by its direct forerunner Bergier and Pauwells' Morning of the Magicians (1960), without which The Occult - and pretty much the entire Occult and New Age revival in publishing - would be unthinkable.
On the other hand, when it came to his pet pecadillos, Wilson could hardly be called an impartial or "scientific" reporter. He tended to err on the side of credulity, accepting wild claims at face value. This fault is particularly evident in his writings on everything from ghosts to UFOs to "Faculty X"... a kind of primitive clairvoyance that he claimed all humans at one time possessed. For this reason alone, Wilson's value to any modern-day truth-seeker is suspect as anything more than a provider of excellently written and highly entertaining summaries - jumping off points - for the serious student of aberrant thought and High Weirdness.
Rest in Peace, Colin Wilson.
Pretty interesting, allegedly impromptu speech delivered by David Simon, creator of The Wire - probably the finest television drama of our generation - at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, in Sydney, Australia.
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It's astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
There's no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We've somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you're seeing this more and more in the west. I don't think it's unique to America.
I think we've perfected a lot of the tragedy and we're getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx.
Continue reading at The Guardian.