Thursday, August 18, 2005

A New Colin Wilson Interview



Here is a brand new interview of the British author Colin Wilson (born 1931).

Excerpts:

"Any intellectual who divides opinion as much as Colin Wilson has for almost 50 years must be onto something, even if it is only whether humans should be pessimistic or optimistic."

"In books on sex, crime, psychology and the occult, and in more than a dozen novels, Mr. Wilson has explored how pessimism can rob ordinary people of their powers.

"'If you asked me what is the basis of all my work,' he said, 'it's the feeling there's something basically wrong with human beings. Human beings are like grandfather clocks driven by watch springs. Our powers appear to be taken away from us by something.'"

"The critics, particularly in Britain, have alternately called him a genius and a fool. His autobiography, published in hardcover last year, has received mixed reviews. Though lauded by some, the attacks on it and Mr. Wilson have been as virulent as those he provoked in the 1950's after he became a popular culture name with the publication of The Outsider."

"That book dealt with alienation in thinkers, artists and men of action like T. E. Lawrence, van Gogh, Camus and Nietzsche, and caught the mood of the age. Critics, including Cyril Connolly and Philip Toynbee, hailed Mr. Wilson as a British version of the French existentialists."

"The Outsider was translated into dozens of languages and sold millions of copies. It has never been out of print."

"He never lost belief in the importance of his work in trying to find out how to harness human beings' full powers and wipe out gloom."

"'Sartre's 'man is a useless passion,' and Camus's feeling that life is absurd, and so on, basically meant that philosophy itself had turned really pretty dark,' he said. 'I could see that there was a basic fallacy in Sartre and Camus and all of these existentialists, Heidegger and so on. The basic fallacy lay in their failure to understand the actual foundation of the problem.'"

"That foundation, he said, is that human perception is intentional; the pessimists themselves paint their world black."

"Mr. Wilson has spent much of his life researching how to achieve those moments of well-being that bring insight, what the American psychologist Abraham Maslow called 'peak experiences.'"

"Those moments can come only through effort, concentration or focus, and refusing to lose one's vital energies through pessimism."

"'What it means basically is that you're able to focus until you suddenly experience that sense that everything is good,' Mr. Wilson said. 'We go around leaking energy in the same way that someone who has slashed their wrists would go around leaking blood.'"

"'Once you can actually get over that and recognize that this is not necessary, suddenly you begin to see the possibility of achieving a state of mind, a kind of steady focus, which means that you see things as extremely good.' If harnessed by everyone, this could lead to the next step in human evolution, a kind of Superman."

"'The problem with human beings so far is that they are met with so many setbacks that they are quite easily defeatable, particularly in the modern age when they've got too separated from their roots,' he said."

Colin Wilson @ Wikipedia

[Thanks to Juri for the tip.]

Earlier:
Colin Wilson on the "Right Man"