Today’s Solutions: February 23, 2024

At the end of last year the self–proclaimed “first optimistic philosopher in European history,” Colin Wilson passed on. The next issue of The Intelligent Optimist has a feature written about Wilson and the impact he  had on our magazine, lives, and outlook on life. Below is a tribute to Colin Wilson that was sent in by Intelligent Optimist reader Robert Hensley. | Daniel Hills
The prolific writer, Colin Wilson, at the age of 82 died Dec 5th, 2013.  While major newspapers took note of his passing, I found myself wondering if the journalists who wrote some of the obituaries had read anything more than the back covers of his books.  Certainly a few blogger fans had much more to say. 
Colin was a genuine optimist with the courage to pursue his interests.  His thoroughness in researching his subjects and his tremendous skill in writing with a natural seemingly effortless style, brought each topic he tackled into a vivid focus and a tangible reality. 
The first text of his I read was his short novel, “The Philosophers Stone.”  I was completely captivated by its characters and their quest.  The protagonists were on the hunt for a state of consciousness that they labeled “Faculty X”, a kind of expanded level of perception and awareness.  As a work of fiction the novel could elaborate on ways and means of accessing and magnifying this faculty.  As for me I had my own reasons for believing that Faculty X was profoundly real and it’s exploration had led me into some interesting studies and experiences in psychology, biofeedback, and various means of correlating brain functions with measurements of self-actualization. 
In its own way Faculty X and many of Colin’s related writings were adhering to a centuries long legacy of developing human potentials.  Colin’s writings went on to explore that legacy in many, many books and essays, such as, “New Pathways in Psychology,” “Strange Powers,” “The War Against Sleep,” “Frankenstein’s Castle – The Double Brain, Door to Wisdom,” “Rudolf Steiner: The Man and His Vision,” “Afterlife,” “From Atlantis to the Sphinx,” “Alien Dawn,” “Dreaming to Some Purpose – an Autobiography,” and nearly a hundred more.  Every one of them worthy reads, and each one opening the reader up to a profound depth of study that rarely makes the news but exists along the sidelines of the media’s obsessions with glamour, politics, money, and scandal.
The scope of Colin’s interests went off into areas that I haven’t particularly followed.  For example, I’ve never shared his fascination with crime.  But, along with his incredible skill as a writer and thinker, what I deeply admire is his enthusiastic willingness to pursue his interests.  As an avid collector of music (an obsession I happen to share) in one interview he stated that he had a library of more than 15,000 records.  I can well understand his desire to have just one more or even a dozen more interpretations of Bruckner’s 7th or Beethoven’s 9th.
Colin tackled subjects that the main stream met with a smirk, a sneer, and dismissed without investigating.  To his credit he approached his topics with clarity, openness, and a refreshingly honest scientific mind.  Colin said himself that in a sense he was always writing about one thing; How does man lift himself up from the worms eye view to the birds eye view?  How does one propel oneself past the robot in us that is a wonderful servant but a horrific master?  How do we, in other words, self actualize enough so that peak experiences and awakened potentials become realized and empowered enough to lead us in the course of living?
In a very real and profound sense the entire scope of Colin’s writing was a great antidote to the malaise of nihilism, a cure for the cynical defeatism of apocalyptic dismay that a thousand sources shouted out declaring that to be an optimist was a fools game.  In the midst of the crush of cynicism and sneering dismissals of a unifying livingness to reality, Colin stood firm, declaring that the Bird’s Eye View was in fact more real because it could see farther, and from it’s sight could gleam the intrinsic harmony of life and the thousand wonders of living that the worms eye view could never hope to discover or explain.
This should have been the epitaph given graciously by the media rather than the old worn out nonsense of a great mind that wrote a first masterpiece, “The Outsider,” at the tender age of 24 and nothing of significance since.  To his credit, Colin was insightful enough to know the critics were wrong.  Like any scientist who knows his data he realized that most of the criticisms to his work were formed by those either too lazy to examine the research or too entrenched in the politically accepted view to dare even consider the validity of contrary discoveries.  But that, is not science, it’s social conditioning.  It’s an old story and a pathetic one too.  Lovers of truth, explorers of life’s edges, will find a fountain of wealth in Colin Wilson’s writing.  He has left a great treasure behind.  God speed Colin Wilson on his onward journey. 

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