The ex member of the band Blondie, Gary Lachmann, has been writing readable books for a number of years now - on various alternative thinkers from Jung and Steiner to the more occult Madame Blavatsky and Jacob Boehme. In his latest work Beyond the Robot he explores the work of writer and philosopher Colin Wilson. Wilson's great point was the very part of us designed to make day to day life easy, the automatic part that could take care of driving or idling in a boring meeting was actually threatening the full vitality of our life experience. He records the elation that the depressive youthful Graham Greene had when he played Russian Roulette with himself and survived. He records the last minute reprieve of Dostoevsky from a firing squad and the vigorous sense of life purpose that coursed through him afterwards. Wilson argued we needed to consciously remember these moments of extraordinary significance and let them elevate our lives.
I met Wilson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in the early 1990's when I was an undergraduate. My friend and I had self-designed a course on modern poetry that a professor has kindly agreed to teach us. Wilson was teaching on what he called Faculty X - the mysterious extra factor that the Occult world explored. This helped my friend and I clarify the nature of the mysterious heightened state that some poetry would achieve; that we had become so interested in. The mystical thread held in the best poetry that we would ultimately follow back to its origins in spiritual experience and teachings.