THE OCCULT: A History by Colin Wilson


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Read as ""A History"" which to a large extent it is for the some 300 pages in the middle, this is more easily justified than many of Colin Wilson's books giving as it does a great deal of material about many of the earlier practitioners of the arcane, whether it's Casanova or Nostradamus, Gurdjieff or Rasputin. But before and after, we have the usual pretentious, polymorphous thinking of that paraclete/exegete on what he calls Faculty X -- another ""kind of consciousness,"" sometimes called ""imagination,"" sometimes equated with the creative talent, and sometimes sounding just like any heightened sensitivity with Mr. Wilson at his wordy worst -- ""I am like a tree that suddenly becomes aware that its roots go down deep, deep into the earth. And at this present point in evolution, my roots go far deeper into the earth than my branches stretch above it -- a thousand times deeper."" One is awed by Mr. Wilson's staggering erudition in a field which is only one of his subsidiary interests (until you come to realize that many of the referrals keep recirculating -- Rhine, Wells, Jung, Goethe, Huxley and Graves for example); but he does have a collection of 500 books on the subject, and was it not a happy display of Faculty X when one volume tumbled from the shelf, open at the page on which there was a finding he was searching for. Wilson seems very partial to levitator Daniel Home, the ""greatest medium,"" and also likes Peter Hurkos; he is more guarded on others although Bishop Pike's experience was 'convincing.' Faculty X permits him to pursue such ""lunar knowledge systems"" as the Tarot and the I Ching while his own established enthusiasm for blood-lustier materials runs rampant in his discussion of lycanthropy and vampirism. Cor. In the last section when he begins to develop ""a theory"" three times he is positively turbid and throughout he could have used a little editorial exorcism.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Random House