Monday 23 June 2014

Why I am fascinated by William Arkle


Why am I fascinated by William Arkle's work - why have his writings (and also paintings) hit me like a bolt of lightning? 

There are two answers - 

First: That what Arkle has to say is important and relevant to current cultural needs; and has validity because (I believe) it comes from well-motivated and genuine mystical-experiential insights. 

Second: I can perceive - in retrospect - that I was 'meant' to be doing this many, many years ago - and have been ignoring strong 'hints' to this effect since the mid-1970s...


1. As a teenager I lived in the same village (Backwell) as William Arkle - probably overlapping for about a decade; and my sister knew his wife and daughter (via an interest in horses).

2. I used to be close friends with Arkle's next door neighbours - visiting often and staying as a guest a few times. And these were 'neighbours' in the sense of being two of only three residences - the other was a farm - on top of a hill and with no other houses for a radius of about a mile in all directions!

3. I saw a BBC television documentary program about Arkle in about 1976, and was both amazed and reluctantly fascinated by the idea of a spiritual 'guru' living so near-by. 

4. I read his book Geography of Consciousness in 1978, having I discovered a copy in the Edinburgh City Library after my family had moved from Somerset to Scotland. The introduction to GoC led me to read Colin Wilson, and from then on I read a lot of CW - however, I tended to regard Arkle as essentially a Wilsonite; an influence on CW, rather than a thinker in his own right. 

5. Nonetheless I loved the first section of GoC about awakening in the morning, throwing back the curtains etc. It stuck in my mind and fascinated me - so from 1978 I was looking-out for a secondhand copy of the book. I would often check for this whenever I went to a secondhand shop. I never found a copy anywhere. 

This led to the most clear-cut example of synchronicity of my whole life. 

I was walking through the Bloomsbury area of London, near the British Museum, sometime in the mid-1980s when I saw an unusual-looking little bookshop (it may have been an Eastern Religious or Anthroposophical shop, I can't recall); and it came into mind that they may have a copy of Arkle's book - or perhaps that they did have a copy. I walked into the shop, and straight to an upper shelf (no looking around) where there was the book - apparently waiting for me. 

6. I even visited William Arkle's house (in about 1982-4) and spent an excellent evening with his son Nick (an electronic music composer - he was showing me around his studio). During this visit I actually saw William Arkle, and said hello to him. But I didn't take things any further. 

7. In early 2008, just before a visit to Glastonbury, I discovered the web pages and discovered that the Arkle family had relocated to Glastonbury before Arkle died in 2000. While I was in Glastonbury, I asked a couple of people if they knew about him (in a cafe and a book shop), but drew a blank. 

8. However, it was only after the death of Colin Wilson earlier this year that I read, and really engaged with, and finally understood William Arkle.  


The significance of all this is that, in retrospect, it is clear to me that I was supposed to meet Bill Arkle, or at least to engage fully with his ideas, for several decades before I actually did so. 

And by 'supposed' I think I mean by some kind of divine providence - because nobody else could have laid-on all these encounters. 


My understanding (and I don't much care what other people may think about it! - after all, synchronicities are not designed to be any kind of scientific proof or legal evidence or public rhetoric) is that this was a path set out for me to take, for my own good - but a path that I resolutely and repeatedly avoided treading. 

I was given chance after chance, hint after hint - all of which I rejected. 

Who knows what might have happened has I taken notice of these chances and hints - but I did not!


So I start from where I am, belatedly.

Perhaps I was not ready earlier, because it was not until 2008-9 that I became a Christian and open to the reality of the divine, and then it took longer before I felt able to discern when someone was a real mystic - speaking with the validity of direct personal experience, and probably I also needed to understand and align-with Mormon theology to appreciate Arkle's particular contribution.

Or perhaps I would have been ready earlier if I had taken notice of the chances and hints. 

Anyway, that is why I am now reading and thinking about William Arkle with such intensity. 



David said...

Synchronicity is real. Once you have experienced it personally there can be no doubt. I have found that once you know this then you may be guided to further experiences with greater certainty; perhaps via the holy ghost, again if one is prepared to listen and follow in trust to the promptings instead of harden ones heart. Easier said than done of course. It seems clear to me that we meet others in this mortal life for a reason and that our paths are connected in unexpected but valuable ways. We must seek to embrace this when prompted to do so; our spiritual growth is contigent upon it.

ajb said...

"synchronicities are not designed to be any kind of scientific proof or legal evidence or public rhetoric"

The problem is that it's difficult to make an explicit probability framework for many events, and so we rely on our intuitions ("that doesn't *seem* likely"). Not scientific 'proof', but little in science adds up to proof - rather, evidence.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - I don't think probability alone gets close to capturing synchronicity - it is that feeling that you 'know' something improbable is about to happen- then it does. It is a sense of things being arranged 'around' you. I used to simply call it 'magic' - there was an atmosphere of being attuned to the situation and surroundings.