Monday, 19 March 2018

The history of my personal interest in the subject of consciousness

I have been interested in consciousness, and unusual conscious states, for my whole adult life and continuing - but in various ways and with different focuses.

c1974: I discovered the work of Robert Graves; first the Claudius novels, then the essays and criticism. I became fascinated by his remarks concerning the poetic trance, and the possibilities of non-logical leaps of inference and types of knowledge. Bernard Shaw's writings on Creative Evolution (Man and Superman, Back to Methuselah) pointed at higher consciousness as the (impersonal) aim of Life - this amplified by a mystical nature writer called John Stewart Collis. HD Thoreau's Walden and Journals described moments of connection with nature, which I sometimes experienced.

1978: I discovered Colin Wilson's work, with its primary focus on attaining higher forms of consciousness - since then I carefully read through most of his books, many several times. About this same time I encountered CG Jung, and the idea of archetypes that lent depth, universality and significance to life and art. A book of essays by composer Michael Tippett (Moving into Aquarius) talked of the importance of this kind of thing in artistic creation.

1994: I began an active scientific study of consciousness from the perspective of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I began to publish on the subject. To Thoreau I added an engagement with RW Emerson and other 'related' authors like Walt Whitman, William James, Robert Frost.

1998: Shamanism was of increasing interest - I read anthropological texts, and also - from about 2001 - Neo-Jungian writers such as Joseph Campbell and James Hillman.

2010: Having become a Christian, I investigated Eastern Orthodoxy (and the analogous 'Celtic'/ Anglo Saxon British tradition) - i.e. the practices of constantly-praying/ meditating ascetic monks and hermits, wonder-working Saints etc.

c2013: Having committed to Mormon theology and metaphysics; this was the beginning of my current phase of great interest in William Arkle, Owen Barfield and Rudolf Steiner, supplemented by William Blake and ST Coleridge.

So, for me, consciousness has been (in different, sometimes contrasting, ways) the single major intellectual and personal interest over a span of more than four decades - and continuing.


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