As the editor of this fine online periodical, I am often asked to recommend books to souls seeking some good esoteric readin’. Normally, I mutter something obtuse like “haven’t you heard of Google?”, or “The true path to enlightenment is a journey of the lone man/woman, only through experience will you find the way, now leave me alone”. Recently, however, I’ve become less of an elitist prick, and after doing some re-reading of the Sitting Now library, I’ve decided to recommend five books that have profoundly influenced me over the last couple of decades, and helped shape my world view. I do this in the hope that you, dear reader, may also experience the same head shattering joy as I.
Without further ado:
1. Quantum Psychology – Robert Anton Wilson
Don’t, like me, look at this title and assume you need a prior knowledge of the two most terrifying academic disciplines, physics and psychology (and agricultural history studies, but that’s not really relevant here), you don’t. People often cite Wilson’s ‘The Illuminatus Trilogy’ as his greatest work (with Bob Shea), but my personal go-t0 Wilson texts tend to be his essays on the workings of the human mind, religion, and higher states of consciousness. Quantum Psychology is the pinnacle of these efforts, and a sort of thematic sequel to the equally great Prometheus Rising. Quantum Psychology posits that human thinking has been stuck in the dark ages, and using Quantum mechanics, and good old Bob Wilson humour, we can upgrade our brains.
2. Future Shock – Alvin Toffler
Written in 1970, Alvin Toffler shocked the world (pun intended) when this book was released. He argued that the industrialist world we live in is mutating into a ‘Super Industrial Society’. Toffler believed (correctly), that social change engineered by the rapid development of technology would leave us disconnected and shattered. He called this state ‘Future Shock’, a form of social paralysis, a fear of the future, a reaction against the rapid speed-up of technological development, and population increase. The idea was later picked up by Robert Anton Wilson when describing his ‘Jumping Jesus’ phenomena to great effect. Don’t be scared of the future, be mindful of it.
3. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K Dick
Philip K Dick had a very strange experience involving a pink laser and dental medication that led to a magickal revelation which would alter his perception of the universe forever (see: The Exegesis of Philip K Dick). Before this happened, however, his head was already in a place so far removed from the rest of us, that it’s almost no wonder it exploded the way it did. I could have chosen a whole host of books for this entry, but The Three Stigmata is my personal favourite. Dick’s grasp of the future is prothetic to say the least, and in this tale, Can-D a drug that colonists of a desolate planet are forced to take to stop them losing their minds, causes it’s users to form cults, whilst waiting for the return of the voyager Palmer Eldritch, who has taken on a god-like place in their own twisted mythology. This book will melt your brain, and then leave you wanting more.
4. Media Virus – Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff has appeared on this site many times, and for good reason, he’s a great writer and future-leaning media critic. Doug will often write about what you’re just about ready to start thinking about, and that’s a great joy, as he’s doing the work for you, so you can go and watch South Park instead…or something like that? Media Virus was the first Rushkoff book I read, and even though it’s firmly entrenched in the era it was written, it’s still very relevant, possibly even more so, in today’s ‘newtertainment’ era of media. Rushkoff puts forward that media outlets are taking ideas, and genetically altering them to infect you into thinking the way they want you to. But don’t worry, there’s a cure…
5. The Invisibles – Grant Morrison
Strictly speaking, The Invisibles isn’t a book. It’s a graphic novel (at least that’s what we always called them), and magickal primer of the highest order. If you’re interested in seeing the transformation of a writer from comic-book savant, to a drug-taking, chaos magick using, globe-trotting, genius guru, then read the Invisibles. In a way, the series was a document of Grant Morrison’s journey into the Chapel Perilous, brilliantly illustrated, and wonderfully rendered. If you want to truly break your mind apart, grab yourself every volume of this masterpiece, you can thank me later.