The Occult: The Ultimate Book for Those Who Would Walk with the Gods Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
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"The Occult is the most interesting, informative and thought-provoking book on the subject I have read" Sunday Telegraph
Colin Wilson's great classic work is the essential guidebook to the mind-expanding experiences and discoveries of the 20th Century. His genius lies in producing a skilful synthesis of the available material; clarifying without simplifying, seeing the occult in the light of reason and reason in the light of the mystical and paranormal. It is a journey of enlightenment. He provides a wide-ranging survey of the whole subject, a comprehensive history of "magic" and an insightful exploration of Man's latent powers and brings his own refreshingly optimistic and stimulating interpretation to the worlds of the paranormal, the occult and the supernatural. This new edition has a new introduction by Colin Wilson. Originally published by Grafton Books under isbn 0586 05050 7See all Product description
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What I felt let the book down for me is when goes off on tangents that aren't really very interesting, (when you've heard one case-history of reincarnation, take it from me, you've heard them all) which I suppose is inevitable is a work that is nearly 800 pages long. Wilson can at times be far too self-reverential, and also he isn't always objective enough. He blindly adores Gurdjieff, (who just comes across as something of a bit of a a dreary old fart), has very 1950s views on women and homosexuality (the best of which I can say about these views is that they are "quaint"), and some of the paranormal incidents he narrates are dodgy to say the least. For example, when discussing Spontaneous Combustion, he cites the hoary old tale of Maybelle Andrews bursting into flames when dancing in a Soho nightclub many years ago. This would undoubtedly be a tragic and disturbing story ... if Maybelle had ever existed. She didn't. Some writers and journalists took the case of a young woman called Phyllis who died of severe burns after a discarded cigarette set her party frock alight, and turned it into Maybelle spontaneously combusting.
All trashing aside though, this is still a book I fully recommend for anyone who is interested in the history of the paranormal, and Mr Wilson, (a very well-read man), leads us through it in a nicely painless way.
Most of it engages with the authors own experiences into particular subjects such as ESP and telepathy, although considering he sites so many examples after a while it seems implausible. I found that the majority of the book was about his own experiences that supported certain theories, for example, stating that ESP caused him to subconciously forget his keys and so he was delayed and as such was not involved in a major car crash that happened on his way to work. This is not an exact example, but it gives you the impression.
This book certainly has points of interest, although I think that the title was poorly chosen. This is a book looking into Human Phenomena, not the Occult.
On my re-reading of it, I have to agree with another reviewer that it has dated badly, no fault of Wilson's of course, but down to the rapid changes in science, etc.; however it still holds for me this fascination with Faculty X which, I have to say, is something that I wholely agree with Wilson about, even more so now that I am older and, I suppose, a whole lot wiser.
The fact that he says that humanity actually lives in for want of a better description, a dream-world and most of the latent powers are almost completely under-used by almost everyone, is absolutely right in my estimation.
In any event, this is an excellent read, rather long, I have to say, but worth the effort you put in.. Obtain it and read it, Im sure you too will find much of what Wilson says has a very large bearing on how current humanity acts and defines its world.