Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The essence of Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson wrote a very large number of books - non-fiction, novels and articles - but he was a 'hedgehog' thinker who had a single core insight or essence that was endlessly re-explained, elaborated and extended.

This essence was Wilson's metaphysical assumption that Man is potentially as good as his best moments.

For Wilson, the starting point was therefore to reflect on those times in life when the mental state and powers were at their peak - when you felt at your best and when the world felt like an excellent place. His 'optimistic' assumption is that the best times ought to be regarded as the baseline state.

Most people - in contrast - are pessimistic; and regard the best times as aberrations. Since they are not permanent, and may be very brief and infrequent - most people take the baseline of life to be the normal average level of feeling and functioning.

Even worse, for the past century or so the mainstream intellectual elite - especially the artists and authors - have propagated a view that the worst times (of suffering, nihilism, despair) are actually the realest representations of the nature of life and the good moments are merely ephemeral illusions: for the bulk of influential intellectuals - suffering, nihilism and despair are the truth.

But Wilson's contention was that the optimistic view is the true one - and the proper interpretation of the fact that the best times may be the exception rather than the rule, is that Man (as a species and as individual) is on an evolutionary trajectory towards an era when our highest-ever moments become the norm; and indeed become higher.

So, the best times of our lives therefore need to be noticed, identified, focused-upon, learnt-from and built-upon - aiming towards a future of continuous, enhanced and fulfilling consciousness.

And that is the basis of Wilson's serious writing; and indeed much of his lighter work too. 

See also: