Saturday, September 06, 2008

Cthulhu as seen at Woodstock

This morning I finished The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson, the philosopher and prolific novelist.

The Mind Parasites was inspired by Wilson's conversations with August Derleth. After those conversations, Wilson decided to write a Lovecraftian novel, using some of his own philosophical ideas. The Lovecraftian themes are recognizable throughout, but the book is unlike anything Lovecraft wrote in a number of ways, mainly in the efficacy of the main characters. Lovecraft's characters are almost always helpless in the face of the horrors they encounter, and an overriding theme of his seem to be the insignificance to humans in the face of the cosmos.

On the other hand, Wilson is very much infused with the 60's ideas of human potential, including psychic and consciousness exploring potential. Out of the later comes the most innovative twist in the novel - instead of being an external, physical monster, the titular parasites exist inside the depths of human consciousness, where the interfere with people exploring their evolutionary potential and feed off human psychic energy.

The rest of the book is not as innovative - a simple struggle against the mind parasites more reminiscent of the pulp science fiction writings of the 30's - but the newness of the central idea is enough to carry the rest of the book.

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