Colin Wilson

Colin Henry Wilson was born and raised in Leicester, England, U.K. He left school at 16, worked in factories and various occupations, and read in his spare time. When Wilson was 24, Gollancz published The Outsider (1956) which examines the role of the social 'outsider' in seminal works of various key literary and cultural figures. These include Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William James, T. E. Lawrence, Vaslav Nijinsky and Vincent Van Gogh and Wilson discusses his perception of Social alienation in their work. The book was a best seller and helped popularize existentialism in Britain. Critical praise though, was short-lived and Wilson was soon widely criticized.Wilson's works after The Outsider focused on positive aspects of human psychology, such as peak experiences and the narrowness of consciousness. He admired the humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow and corresponded with him. Wilson wrote The War Against Sleep: The Philosophy of Gurdjieff on the life, work and philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff and an accessible introduction to the Greek-Armenian mystic in 1980. He argues throughout his work that the existentialist focus on defeat or nausea is only a partial representation of reality and that there is no particular reason for accepting it. Wilson views normal, everyday consciousness buffeted by the moment, as "blinkered" and argues that it should not be accepted as showing us the truth about reality. This blinkering has some evolutionary advantages in that it stops us from being completely immersed in wonder, or in the huge stream of events, and hence unable to act. However, to live properly we need to access more than this everyday consciousness. Wilson believes that our peak experiences of joy and meaningfulness are as real as our experiences of angst and, since we are more fully alive at these moments, they are more real. These experiences can be cultivated through concentration, paying attention, relaxation and certain types of work.
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