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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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The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 1

The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 1

  My heroes are not the typical ones, the movie stars, sports stars, musical stars, et al. Rather, they are philosophers, writers, poets, thinkers who can all be grouped under the rubric of Outsider, to borrow from Colin Wilson. My heroes are all Outsiders. People such as Nietzsche, Jung, Dostoevsky, Goethe, and more recently Sylvia Plath, James Hillman, and Colin Wilson. These are the kinds of individuals I respect and admire most. No, they are not sports heroes, racing drivers,…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 21

Religion and the Rebel, Part 21

  Finally, we have arrived at the last chapter of this book. It’s been a long road. I have learned much from Colin Wilson. He has been a great inspiration to me this year. Even though he has passed from this world, the spirit of his work lives on in his over one hundred books. The Outsider and Religion and the Rebel have been outstanding studies for me. I have branched out from mainly doing articles on depth psychology to…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 20

Religion and the Rebel, Part 20

There is one more play that needs to be dealt with, in light of the Outsider philosophy: Back to Methuselah. For a general summary of the play, see Wilson’s commentary on pages 279-283 of Religion and the Rebel, or read the Wikipedia article here. Wilson does not view every act of the play as valuable. He sees the last act, As Far as Thought Can Reach, as one of Shaw’s masterpieces. We will concentrate on it. This part of Shaw’s play…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 19

Religion and the Rebel, Part 19

In Tanner’s dream, Dona Ana de Ulloa (resembling Ann Whitefield) comes to converse with him, and is soon joined by the Statue from Mozart (symbolizing Ann’s deceased father), and Mendoza as the Devil. In the dream, Tanner is his ancestor, Don Juan. The conversation that ensues, Wilson says, is “the greatest scene in Shaw, and one of the pinnacles of English literature.”1 Dona Ana is under the impression that heaven is a place of happiness. She tells Don Juan, “I…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 18

Religion and the Rebel, Part 18

  In one of his finest plays, Bernard Shaw unabashedly presents his Outsider philosophy in Man and Superman. Shaw initially planned to write a play about the legend of Don Juan, except that he switches things around and makes the woman, Ann Whitefield, the seducer. Wilson makes an interesting point about this: . . . the truth is that the higher form of life will always be chased by the lower. The woman with elements of greatness will always be…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 17

Religion and the Rebel, Part 17

  Everyone is ill at ease until he has found his natural place, whether it be above or below his birthplace. . . . Besides, this finding of one’s place may be made very puzzling by the fact that there is no place in ordinary society for extraordinary individuals. . . .1 This is the experience of all Outsiders. The youth of the extraordinary individual is usually fraught with trouble and misery until, at some point, he or she discovers…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 16

Religion and the Rebel, Part 16

Wilson’s comments, so far, have been merely a prelude to discussing Bernard Shaw. He wants us to understand what he means by an “existentialist,” who is “the artist-philosopher,” the one who has the ability to “use his will power in analysis, and yet at a moment’s notice to become completely negative, transparent, and receptive.”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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Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Wilson’s book is almost complete, but there are few more thinkers he wants to discuss, one of the most important being the great Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist, George Bernard Shaw. Wilson explains that, for himself, Shaw’s reputation will increase with time, until it is seen that his position in relation to Western thought is as important as that of Augustine or Aquinas to mediaeval thought. For me, the Outsider is the symbol of the whole problem of Western civilisation…

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