Monday, December 9, 2013
THE RISE AND FALL OF COLIN WILSON
Colin Wilson, author of The Outsider and The Occult: A History, passed away this week. He was 82 years old. This overview covering Wilson's incredibly rocky career kick-off is very interesting stuff, indeed, and a must-read for any and all fans of this amazingly prolific personality, whether you favor his pioneering true crime work, his "unsolved mysteries" compilations, his literary criticism or his fiction (the Spider-World series being particularly fun juvenilia).
Personally, I've always been of two minds about Wilson. On the one hand, at his best, he's a crafter of compulsively readable books about undeniably intriguing subjects. The aforementioned The Occult, from 1971, is a classic of the genre, with an encyclopedic breadth topped only, perhaps, by its direct forerunner Bergier and Pauwells' Morning of the Magicians (1960), without which The Occult - and pretty much the entire Occult and New Age revival in publishing - would be unthinkable.
On the other hand, when it came to his pet pecadillos, Wilson could hardly be called an impartial or "scientific" reporter. He tended to err on the side of credulity, accepting wild claims at face value. This fault is particularly evident in his writings on everything from ghosts to UFOs to "Faculty X"... a kind of primitive clairvoyance that he claimed all humans at one time possessed. For this reason alone, Wilson's value to any modern-day truth-seeker is suspect as anything more than a provider of excellently written and highly entertaining summaries - jumping off points - for the serious student of aberrant thought and High Weirdness.
Rest in Peace, Colin Wilson.