The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, December 23, 2013

Colin Wilson

That fine online magazine Aeon has today published my article on Colin Wilson, who died earlier this month and for whom I retained a sort of sceptical admiration long after my teenage enthusiasm waned. Reactions to his death suggest that that early enthusiasm and continuing admiration was more widely shared than I'd thought. If you'd like to comment on the piece, please do so there.


Thanks for the fine review, Ken. I read "The Outsider" many years ago, well before I had read any of the thinkers he wrote about in that book. I had no patience for Mr Wilson's philosophical remarks, but the book was invaluable to me: it informed me that certain interesting thoughts were around. That curiosity hasn't left me yet.
A few years ago I read Wilson's "The Mind Parasites," the only SF book I know that is based on notions from one of my favourite philosophers, Edmund Husserl. That was pure, whimsical, fun.

Thanks George - yes, The Mind Parasites was pretty good, at least in memory. Wilson's Spiders novels seem well regarded too, but Ihaven't read them.

I read The Outsiders so many years ago, I barely remember it, though I seem to remember he had a good word for Lovecraft, and that was unusual for what I thought then was an academic. I never read Mind Parasites or anything else of his; thought he had devolved into a crank. He was into flying saucers I think, and while many of my generation -me too-believed, and still do, that this was the US government testing weapons, no serious political person wanted to get into that swamp of a movement. Based on your liking it, Ken, I'll give it a try.

The best book I've read on the connections between UFOs and the secret state is Mirage Men, by Mark Pilkington. Serious political people are indeed well advised to steer clear of the ufology 'movement'.

I'm a big fan of ol' Colin, but only the nonfiction. Really, the novels are amateurish. Ritual In the Dark is interesting, but not well-written, and not well-told. Interesting simply because he is one of the few (too few) explicitly Existentialist authors in the English language. Excellent piece by the way Mr MacLeod.

Hi Ken
I read more of Colin's non-fiction (like "Marx Refuted") and occultic grab-bag beasteries than his fiction. All of it read well and like you I found it inspiring, but frustratingly inconclusive in a way I couldn't put my finger on. Your essay evoked that same mix of fondness and perplexity his work meant for me.

Adam [my twitter handle is qraal BTW]

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