Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mental Parasites!


When you teach a man that he has been completely mistaken about his own nature all his life, it is as unsettling as suddenly giving him a million pounds. Or it is like taking a sexually frustrated man, and giving him the run of a harem. He suddenly discovers that he can turn on moods of poetry like a tap, that he can heat up his emotions to a kind of incandescence. He realizes, with a shock, that he has been handed the key to greatness: that all the world’s so-called ‘great men’ were men who had a mere glimmering of these powers which he now possesses in abundance. But he has spent all his life taking a relatively modest view of himself. His old personality has achieved a certain density through thirty or forty years of habit. It refuses to wither away overnight. But the new personality is also exceptionally powerful. He becomes a battle ground of two personalities. And he wastes an enormous amount of energy in all this confusion.

Colin Wilson’s book The Mind Parasites has a strange and powerful fascination over me. I’m in the process of re-reading the book, and right now I’m about three-quarters done with the second read.

It’s a strange book; I don’t think I’ve ever quite read anything like it. Wilson is a philosopher by trade, steeped in existentialism, and I’ve read some of his non-fiction works. But he’s dabbled in everything from that to this to true crime to fringe paranormal. His works are always on my list of books to seek out.

To give you the best idea of what The Mind Parasites is like, assuming you’re familiar with the following authors, it’s something like equal parts

H. P. Lovecraft
George Gurdjieff
Ayn Rand

and the philosophical methods and methodology of Edmund Husserl, of which I’m woefully ignorant but of whom seems extremely interesting. Why oh why didn’t I major in philosophy at college? Oh yeah, because I thought I would never be able to get a job. Wait a minute …

Anyway, a review of The Mind Parasites will be forthcoming, probably in a week or ten days, and will be of greater depth than I generally do for the books I read, simply because I find this one so intensely fascinating.

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