Monday 8 January 2024

The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson (1967) - a brief consideration of issues raised

I have just read Colin Wilson's The Mind Parasites - the first of his three Lovecraftian novels, and a book which I thought that I had already read - but (for forgotten reasons) had not. 

I have owned the book for some nine years, and I have certainly read the two "sequels" (The Philospher's Stone, and The Space Vampires) and found them both enjoyable; but it turned out I hadn't read the MPs, as became apparent after I had finished a few pages. 

I found the Mind Parasites book not-particularly enjoyable, and not at all gripping - since it seemed rather long-winded and was hardly a story at all - being more like an account of some science fiction type happenings set in "the future". But, as nearly always with Colin Wilson, the book was nonetheless well worth reading, and provoked a lot of thinking, note taking, "philosophizing".

What it made me realize was that Colin Wilson, at this point in his life and work, was convinced that the problem of life (this mortal life, as I nowadays term it) would be solved if Man lived up to his highest levels, broke through the trammels on his thinking, gained absolute confidence; and thereby developed undying life (death being, as Bernard Shaw also believed, due to "discouragement" which he would deploy in largely creative and increasingly abstract mental activities.  

In the meanwhile - the Main Problem (the most urgent difficult and constraint) was that Men of genius (or potential genius) were thwarted by the oppressive and onerous conditions of modern life: this was the theme of his first book The Outsider and many more afterwards.

A theme that I first encountered in Wilson, and which continues to this day (i.e. with Romantic Christianity), was that mankind reached a point of development in the late 1700s in Europe that changed his spontaneous relationship with the world - the Romantic Era began. 

Wilson was fascinated by the ways in which various people (especially creative people, "artists" in the broadest sense) had tackled the problems of Romanticism - how all had ultimately failed, but how some might use their experiences to succeed... 

In other words, at this point, CW believed in the possibility of a satisfactory mortal life - at least for some people, if only XYZ were allowed them and if only they had the right attitude

I now feel that Colin Wilson failed to acknowledge, or really to grasp, the problem of death - and the phenomenon of "entropy" which pervades this world - failed to realize the limits this places upon all possible schemes of amelioration and improvement. 

I now firmly believe (what the ancients knew clearly) that Men literally cannot win in this-world: all lives are failures if we draw the line at death. 

Later Wilson seemed also to grasp this, at least implicitly - although he did not follow it through; by his belief that there is an Afterlife (the title of his 1987 book, which detailed his increasing conviction that psychical research proved that there was an existence beyond death). 

As I wrote earlier today (stimulated by reading Mind Parasites); my own conviction that it is specifically and necessarily the infinitely-wide frame of the Christian belief in an afterlife that makes it possible to live a truly successful mortal life - and which (potentially) uniquely solves the problem of Romanticism - and any other actual problem of any person's actual life.   

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