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Month: July 2017

Religion and the Rebel, Part 6

Religion and the Rebel, Part 6

During the years, 1934-1961, Arnold J. Toynbee published twelve volumes of A Study of History. He was still in the process of writing it when Colin Wilson’s Religion and the Rebel was released in 1957, although by this time he had finished ten volumes. The books include studies of the development and disintegration of nineteen different civilizations. Where to begin on such a prolific intellectual? Since we are examining how these issues relate to the Outsider, we will begin there….

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 5

Religion and the Rebel, Part 5

Today, I’ve been reading chapter two of Wilson’s amazing book, Religion and the Rebel. The chapter is entitled, The Outsider and History. As a matter of fact, I just received in the mail today my hardcover copy of the book, a first edition no less. I am thrilled! For my previous articles, I’ve been using a borrowed soft copy from the Internet Archive, which is a veritable goldmine for some of these older gems. The study of civilizations is crucial…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 4

Religion and the Rebel, Part 4

  It is the moral question that becomes an existentialist question only by the depth of the attempt to answer it: What shall we do with our lives? The Outsider’s standards are unusually high. For him, ‘success’ and ‘failure’ have a completely new meaning. Ordinary ‘success’ seems particularly poisonous to him: the success of a film star or businessman or the author of a best seller. That is only a way of wading out into the world’s stupidity and losing…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 3

Religion and the Rebel, Part 3

The concept of hell is only important in so far as it points to a concept of heaven. The concept of insanity only matters because it is a step toward supersanity (48). In Religion and the Rebel, Wilson wants to define what he means by “heaven” and “supersanity,” but first he wants to get at the true meaning of Existenzphilosophie, or at least “the meaning that the Outsider attaches to it” (ibid.). This is a German word that means “the…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 2

Religion and the Rebel, Part 2

In the final two chapters of The Outsider, Wilson outlined several attempts at a positive solution to the Outsider’s problem. It is his plan in Religion and the Rebel to present a more complete answer. Just as a reminder, Wilson’s use of “religious” is not the typical dogmatic idea we have of the word. It is more akin to contacting the source of the sacred within oneself. The key to all religion, Wilson says, is “increased intensity of mind” (40)….

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 1

Religion and the Rebel, Part 1

Colin Wilson’s sequel to The Outsider, Religion and the Rebel, was published one year after his initial success. He lets us know immediately, in the opening sentence of the introduction, what his intentions are for this work: “The Outsider was an incomplete book” (1). Wilson says there were other ideas he wanted to deal with in Religion and the Rebel that he did not have the space for in The Outsider. He intends to “probe deeper into the Outsider himself,…

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Comments on The Outsider, Conclusion

Comments on The Outsider, Conclusion

I must admit that Wilson’s book, The Outsider, is one of the best I’ve ever read on the problem of attempting to go beyond the boring, everyday bourgeois world to find another mode of consciousness that has the potential to revolutionize one’s earthly experience. He brilliantly analyzes many who have tried and most who have failed. Let’s see how he wraps things up. As with the Existentialist viewpoint, in general, “the act of willing is important; the result, whether it…

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Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 3

Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 3

Wilson turns now to William Blake, perhaps the greatest poet who ever walked the earth. Blake is what Wilson calls a “religious Outsider” (Wilson 136), as was Dostoevsky. He is similar to Nietzsche in that he is life-affirming, making statements, such as, “Energy is eternal delight” (Blake 251), and “For everything that lives is Holy, life delights in life” (Blake 305). Wilson believes there is a definite correlation between Blake and Nietzsche: If we remember what Nietzsche has written of…

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Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 2

Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 2

…the Outsider’s problems…resolve themselves into terms of Ultimate Yes and Ultimate No (Wilson 106). According to Wilson, there are three types of Outsider: the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical. The intellectual type is of the Existentialist character. Sartre and Camus are good examples. The question with these men is Being or Nothingness? Ultimate Yes or Ultimate No; no middle ground. This  is the way of the Outsider. No happy medium will do. Part of the resolution of the Outsider’s…

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Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 1

Thoughts on The Outsider, Part 1

In 1956, Colin Wilson’s first book, The Outsider, was published. It was a worldwide bestseller and made Wilson famous. In my opinion, it is a very important work for the twentieth century, and for the movement of Existentialism. Wilson looks closely at several cultural and literary luminaries who qualify as being alienated from so-called “normal” society. They don’t fit just “right” into bourgeois culture. He examines Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William James, T. E….

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Examining the Archetype of Spirit

Examining the Archetype of Spirit

What we colloquially call the human “spirit,” is among the archetypes of the unconscious. Jung says the spirit archetype usually appears in dreams as a “wise old man,” who gives “decisive convictions, prohibitions, and wise counsels” (Jung 214). This motif also shows up “in dreams in the guise of magician, doctor, priest, teacher, professor, grandfather, or any other person possessing authority” (Jung 216). Sometimes, he appears simply as “an authoritative voice which passes final judgments” (Jung 215). He can appear…

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Thoughts on Dostoevsky

Thoughts on Dostoevsky

    Existentialism was a movement that took place in philosophy after the Second World War, but its roots go back many centuries. It was a break with the Enlightenment mindset which attempted to bring mankind to a state of perfection. The objections to traditional thinking came when Western man began to encounter his own finitude: the Renaissance had promised unlimited horizons for humanity; the Enlightenment had peered down the corridors of Time and saw man as a perfected being:…

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The Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge

If you’re familiar with Norse mythology at all, you’ve probably heard of the Rainbow Bridge. The Norse called it Bifröst. The etymology of the word is not fully known, but it translates roughly as, “the vibrating or trembling rainbow.” Another possibility is “shimmering rainbow.” This supposedly speaks to the fleeting and fragile nature of a rainbow. I could write from the standpoint of meterology about how a rainbow is formed, about the reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water…

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Image is Soul

Image is Soul

The datum with which archetypal psychology begins is the image. (Hillman 114-115) In this article, I will pursue the idea that image must be treated phenomenologically. First of all, we need a working understanding of the word, “image.” The way James Hillman uses it in the opening quotation  is not the way we usually understand it. We think of an image as a picture, a photograph, or maybe a fleeting impression in our mind’s eye. This is what Henry Corbin…

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The Hermetic Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Hermetic Prayer of Thanksgiving

We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’ and praised with the name ‘Father’, for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice,…

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