The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 3

The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 3

In the next section of The Age of Defeat, Wilson deals with what he calls, “the fallacy of insignificance.”1 Continuing in his examination of “the problem of the hero,”2 he begins to discuss Existentialism, for, he says, “its concepts provide the tools with which the whole problem can be dissected.”3 Now, the problem of the hero is that heroism has vanished from Western literature and culture. As we saw earlier, in America we have an other-directedness that extends so far…

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The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 2

The Outsider and the Age of Defeat, Part 2

Wilson reminds us that the inner-directed/outer-directed model is a construction that, according to Riesman, does not really exist, but is merely a type “based on a selection of certain historical problems.”1 No one is either one or the other, much like the labeling of left-brain/right-brain people; all are a combination of both. Wilson adds It may be true that many people spend their lives in a state of more or less contented other-direction, that others (rarer) have achieved a certain…

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The Outsider and The Age of Defeat, Part 1

The Outsider and The Age of Defeat, Part 1

The third book in Colin Wilson’s much acclaimed Outsider Cycle, The Age of Defeat, has recently been reissued by Aristeia Press. It was originally published in 1959. I’ve been anxious to read it and begin a new series writing about it. I had a lot of fun doing the The Outsider and Religion and the Rebel series last year. Hopefully, this one will work out equally well. So, let’s begin! With his first two books, Colin Wilson communicated very clearly…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner: Postscript

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner: Postscript

Even though Wilson did not provide a detailed explication of Steiner’s practical methodology of accessing the spiritual world, he does provide a ringing endorsement of Steiner’s contribution to Western thinking. First, it is Steiner’s view that the “I” of human beings is what distinguishes them from lower animals. Wilson states, We might compare a dog or a cat to a group of travelling musicians who wander through the streets playing more or less in unison; but man is an orchestra…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 2

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 2

At this point, I have read through chapter three of Wilson’s book. So far, aside from Thought, Inspiration, and Intuition, there has been no real mention of how Steiner believed we could cross the threshold and the enter the realm of Imagination. He has spent his time, so far, on a biographical sketch, which is certainly important. Wilson is tracing Steiner’s intellectual development. There was a brief description of Steiner attending the lectures of Franz Brentano. According to Wilson, the…

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Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 1

Colin Wilson on Rudolf Steiner Part 1

I’ve had a copy of Colin Wilson’s little book on Rudolf Steiner sitting in one of my bookcases for over a year now, so I thought it might be a good time to blow off the dust and look inside. In his early works, Wilson didn’t really care for Steiner. He didn’t write anything about him ( that I know of ) until the 1980s, long after he had developed his “New Existentialism.” He does admit finding him “an interesting…

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Rudolf Steiner and Imagination

Rudolf Steiner and Imagination

As a prerequisite to better understanding Steiner, at least for myself, I begin with this amazing quote: . . . the sense-perceptible world is only part of what surrounds us. It is distinct from, and to a certain extent independent of, our overall surroundings simply because it can be perceived with senses that disregard the soul and spiritual aspects of these surroundings. It is like a piece of ice floating on water—the ice consists of the same substance as the…

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The Romantic Poets: What They Missed

The Romantic Poets: What They Missed

Even though they did not complete the work, the Romantic poets brought about great advancement in the consciousness of Imagination. The poets (except for William Blake, perhaps) fell short of grasping the conclusions of what they were experiencing. One could point to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as an example. In his Biographia Literaria, Chapter 13, he begins to explain the philosophical nature of Imagination, only to be interrupted by a letter from a friend, whom he felt deserved his attention more…

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The Failure of Romanticism

The Failure of Romanticism

Colin Wilson, whom I have written much about on this blog, was an existentialist philosopher, but not in the sense of a Sartre or Camus. His existentialism, as he says, “covers a broader field than what Kierkegaard or Heidegger or Sartre means by it; my existentialism is closer to Goethe’s idea of Bildung.” 1 The literary climate of the existentialist is the “Bildungsroman,” the so-called coming-of-age novel or play, where the protagonist’s psychological and moral development is the focus. Dostoevsky’s…

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Jung on Individualism

Jung on Individualism

  Our day is filled with chaos and disorder. America and the nations of Europe have been suffering severely the past decade or so because of an overemphasis on the collective, as opposed to the individual. C.G. Jung would not share today’s obsession with collectivism. He had very specific ideas on individuals and what they offer mankind. The idea of individualism is inherent in Jung’s psychology–in his process of “individuation.” Even though there is, I believe, a phenomenon of world…

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