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A Secret History of Consciousness
 
 

A Secret History of Consciousness [Kindle Edition]

Gary Lachman , Colin Wilson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

A marvelously exhilarating gallop through every important modern theory of consciousness, from Steiner to ... Gebser’s ‘integral consciousness.’ -- Colin Wilson, author of The Outsider and Access to Inner Worlds

Profoundly erudite, yet easy to read, this book is a provocative mind-stretcher. -- Leonard Shlain author of Art & Physics, Alphabet Versus the Goddess, and Sex, Time & Power

Product Description

For the last four centuries, science has tried to account for everything in terms of atoms and molecules and the physical laws they adhere to. Recently, this effort was extended to try to include the inner world of human beings. Gary Lachman argues that this view of consciousness is misguided and unfounded. He points to another approach to the study and exploration of consciousness that erupted into public awareness in the late 1800s. In this “secret history of consciousness,” consciousness is seen not as a result of neurons and molecules, but as responsible for them; meaning is not imported from the outer world, but rather creates it. In this view, consciousness is a living, evolving presence whose development can be traced through different historical periods, and which evolves along a path to a broader, more expansive state. What that consciousness may be like and how it may be achieved is a major concern of this book .Lachman concentrates on the period since the late 1800s, when Madame Blavatsky first brought the secret history out into the open. As this history unfolds, we encounter the ideas of many modern thinkers, from esotericists like P. D. Ouspensky, Rudolf Steiner, and Colin Wilson to more mainstream philosophers like Henri Bergson, William James, Owen Barfield and the psychologist Andreas Mavromatis. Two little known but important thinkers play a major role in his synthesis—Jurij Moskvitin, who showed how our consciousness relates to the mechanisms of perception and to the external world, and Jean Gebser, who presented perhaps the most impressive case for the evolution of consciousness.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 553 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Lindisfarne Books (1 April 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007QD7FJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #137,606 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Gary Lachman (1955- ) was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, but has lived in London, England since 1996. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, he is now a full time writer with more than a dozen books to his name, on topics ranging from the evolution of consciousness and the western esoteric tradition, to literature and suicide, and the history of popular culture. Lachman writes frequently for many journals in the US and UK, and lectures on his work in the US, UK, and Europe.His work has been translated into several languages. His website is http://garylachman.co.uk/

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Consummate Survey 24 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback
Gary Lachman, the author of the highly engaging Turn Off Your Mind, has, with this new work, again written a very lively account of a part of modern intellectual history. This book traces the development, from the late 19th century up to our own time, of the idea of the collective transformation of human consciousness, both the evidence of such evolution in the past, and speculation about future evolution. A fascinating array of thinkers is presented, at a pace that is fast but not superficial. Even readers who are already familiar with these thinkers will find much to engage their minds and send them off into profound reflections of their own. One important measure of this book's success is that it has inspired this reader to go directly to the works of the authors covered.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DESERVES 10 ********** AT LEAST! 31 July 2011
Format:Paperback
This is the best non-fiction book that I have ever read and that's saying something, as I am an avid reader of all genres; having read other books on the same subject, including those of Colin Wilson, who wrote the foreword here, I have to say that this book is the best and most lucid that I have come across.

What a great book bringing together many of the thoughts of the great minds who have applied them to the task of really trying to define what actually human consciousness is; even whether it CAN actually be defined and described.

Lachman's book is erudite, easy to read even when, of necessity, he has been obliged to use some of the more esoteric terms from psychiatry and those coined by various different thinkers, etc. In fact, all-in-all, this book is a great undertaking just in the way it is put together, flowing easily on from one concept into another, never mind the excellent, lucid explanations.

He occasionally introduces his own very worthy thoughts on the various ideas and often remarks about the similarity of thought which does, in fact, run throughout the book, thus making one aware that some of these great thinkers have thought along the same lines, which makes me, at least, think that they do definitely have a grasp on, or perhaps, for want of a better phrase, are on the outskirts of this undoubtedly notoriously difficult to define subject.

Anyone who has ever wondered about the human mind and consciousness in general should read this book and find out what others over the past couple of hundred years or so have to say; as the other reviewer remarked, it has spurred him on to obtain the writings of many of the thinkers mentioned - the very same applies to me, which is why I think so highly of Lachman's great book.

In any event, this book is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, very interesting and mind-expanding 29 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Loved it. Did not know the former bassist for Blondie has been writing very thoughtfull books on consciousness for years now. Highly recommandble if you want to understand humanity, its history and continued evolution.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 31 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The less academic chapters are well worth a read!
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily Well-Researched and Insightful 26 Jun 2006
By Dr. Richard G. Petty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read a great many books, and most seem to have one or two new ideas or a re-hash of something familiar. So it's easy to get the gist of most of them and to move on.

But then there are some books to savor. Books that demand care and focus. Most of these demanding books soon become covered in notes, comments and annotations, and if I feel that people might be helped by a review, it is these that make the cut. I have now read three of Gary Lachman's books: this one, The Dedalus Book of the Occult: A Dark Muse, and Turn off Your Mind. All three have been excellent and demanding.

Gary is evidently an interesting person. A former musician and composer with the band Blondie, he first began his explorations of consciousness between gigs. But unlike so many of his generation, he decided to do something less ephemeral than soak himself in psychedelics.

This book is an exploration of the possibility and the potential that we have to transform our consciousness, not just personally but also as a society. This is not an idle preoccupation: many of us feel that we must transform if we are to survive as a species. Yet there is also another piece to this: if and when we transform, that transformation is associated with its own parcel of challenges. Over the last few centuries, we have already begun to change physically and psychologically, and these changes help explain the rapid emergence and evolution of new laws of life and of healing.

Gary Lachman has something in common with Colin Wilson, who contributed a deeply insightful forward to the book. Both have felt feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and these feelings have propelled them to see what else is out there. Like many people before him, Gary went off on a round of pilgrimages and retreats before re-discovering that the answers are always in the same place: within the human heart and mind.

This book reviews most of the major theories of consciousness from Helena Blavatsky, to Rudolf Steiner, to Gurdjieff and Jean Gebser. It is extremely well written: Gary Lachman is remarkably erudite, yet I managed to read the whole thing for the first time during a flight across the Pacific. It was enthralling from start to finish. I was particularly pleased to see him give a lot of space to a discussion of the work of Andreas Mavromatis, which is not as well known as it should be. Mavromatis has done a lot of work on hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucination: those strange phenomena that most of us have experienced as we are falling asleep or waking. They appear to be a unique state of consciousness that give us important clues about the structure of perception and of conscious experiences.

For anyone interested in consciousness and where we may be headed as a species this book is highly recommended.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Consummate Survey 24 Sep 2003
By Neil Bishop - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gary Lachman, the author of the highly engaging Turn Off Your Mind, has, with this new work, again written a very lively account of a part of modern intellectual history. This book traces the development, from the late 19th century up to our own time, of the idea of the collective transformation of human consciousness, both the evidence of such evolution in the past, and speculation about future evolution. A fascinating array of thinkers is presented, at a pace that is fast but not superficial. Even readers who are already familiar with these thinkers will find much to engage their minds and send them off into profound reflections of their own. One important measure of this book's success is that it has inspired this reader to go directly to the works of the authors covered.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Access To The Unconscious 13 Jan 2005
By Robert S. Robbins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't believe consciousness evolved but this book is a good overview of various theories as to how it could have evolved. I suspect that if you could experience another's mind, you would find significant differences in consciousness even within our present time. The mind of somebody else would seem like an alien world to you. Anyone who possesses exceptional access to their unconscious mind is aware of how alien and distorted its perception can be and this distortion of perception is even present, in a very subtle manner, during full consciousness.

The author does explore an interesting concept, duo-consciousness, the hypnagogic state between sleep and consciousness in which it is possible to dream while being partially awake. He even speculates about consciously induced hypnogogia, the first reference to this secret ability I've seen in print. But he does not go far enough in his speculation. Given exceptional access to the unconscious it is possible to enter the hypnagogic state at will. It is possible to awaken the unconscious into activity by consciously recalling dream imagery, even snatches of long forgotten dreams, and thereby bring it into a near conscious state to the point of experiencing irrational fears. More interesting, it is possible to acquire some of the imaginative capabilities of the dream state and create highly unexpected mental imagery as random, mild hallucinations which are nevertheless subject to some conscious direction towards specific images. This is day dreaming empowered with the faculty of true dreaming! Baudelaire once described this as the poet's gift to dream exceptionally well.

While some occultists believe that exceptional access to the unconscious means peering into other dimensions, and gaining the faculty of the true dreamer would be real magic, there is little experiential evidence that supports such an interpretation. Rather it is the degree of the dissociative state that creates the sense of other dimensions or alien thoughts. The conscious mind cannot associate mental imagery from the unconscious with the self because it is too unfamiliar. However, long familiarity with the unconscious and its mental imagery can create a sense of familiarity which overcomes the dissociative state.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is Fascinating 20 May 2006
By M. Lange - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up without any preconceptions. I just wanted to read more about the history of consciousness, having become interested in the topic over the years. To my delight, Gary Lachman's book opened some great avenues for further study. I was unfamiliar with most of the authors he discusses in depth, other than some notables like Bucke and Gurdjieff. To my delight, he gave a really good overview of Jean Gebser, whose writing I greatly admire, and who made some amazing breakthroughs in the study of the evolution of consciousness. Fourtunately for me, Lachman not only gave clear descriptions of the writers he surveys, but also shows the development of their ideas. There is also a very good bibliography for further explorations. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a student of the evolution and levels of consciousness from a "western" perspective.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenge 5 Jan 2007
By A. C. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is inteligent, entertaining, thought provoking and meticulously researched. What Lachman demonstrates above all else is that it is possible to challenge the hegemonic scientific - materialist view of the origins and evolution of consciousness without collapsing into New Age irrationalism. Marshalling the thoughts' of some of the greatist thinkers' pre and post Enlightenment, he shows that it is possible to bring philosophical and scientific rigour to the subject whilst still allowing a place for the spiritual dimension of human experience. This really is a must read for anybody interested in the History of ideas, as well as anybody who has ever asked the eternal question of 'Why'?

One of my own personal tests of a good none fiction book is the extent that it points one in the direction of many other books on the same subject. I came away from this with a list long enough to keep me immersed for the next decade. Brilliant.
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