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In The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman uncovers the Love Generation's roots in occultism and explores the dark side of the Age of Aquarius.
Writers have been killing themselves for centuries. From Petronius in ancient Rome to the 20th Century Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima, writers, more than any other kind of artist, have taken their own lives in an extraordinary number of ways. With bullets, poison, drugs and swords, poets, playwrights, novelists and philosophers have sent themselves off into the big sleep. Others, one step shy of that last exit, have made great literature about the urge to self-destruction. For the first time, Gary Lachman investigates the many links between self-death and the written word, bringing together an unusual gallery of literary greats and a host of other fatal characters. Typically for Dedalus, the covers gorgeous. Sasha Selavie in QX International Dead Letters ultimately proves to be at once stimulating and thought-provoking and the section devoted to various suicidal writings is most diverting. Peter Burton in One80 Reviews
The occult was a crucial influence on the Renaissance, and it obsessed the popular thinkers of the day. But with the Age of Reason, occultism was sidelined; only charlatans found any use for it. Occult ideas did not disappear, however, but rather went underground. It developed into a fruitful source of inspiration for many important artists. Works of brilliance, sometimes even of genius, were produced under its influence. In A Dark Muse, Lachman discusses the Enlightenment obsession with occult politics, the Romantic explosion, the futuristic occultism of the fin de siècle, and the deep occult roots of the modernist movement. Some of the writers and thinkers featured in this hidden history of western thought and sensibility are Emanuel Swedenborg, Charles Baudelaire, J. K. Huysmans, August Strindberg, William Blake, Goethe, Madame Blavatsky, H. G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, and Malcolm Lowry.
It is the summer of 1967. There is acid on the streets and darker things are on the move. Peter is an apprentice sorcerer with an occult sect. His diary follows his quest for a virgin to seduce and sacrifice.
In the summer of 1964, while a military coup was taking place and tanks were rolling through the streets of Algiers, Robert Irwin set off for Algeria in search of Sufi enlightenment. There he entered a world of marvels and ecstasy, converted to Islam and received an initiation as a faqir. He learnt the rituals of Islam in North Africa and he studied Arabic in London. He also pursued more esoteric topics under a holy fool possessed of telepathic powers. A series of meditations on the nature of mystical experience run through this memoir. But political violence, torture, rock music, drugs, nightmares, Oxbridge intellectuals and first love and its loss are all part of this strange story from the 1960s.

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