Between Philosophy and Esotericism with Gary Lachman

Blondie. Left–to-right: Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, and Gary Lachman (a.k.a. Gary Valentine).

I recently had the opportunity to interview former Blondie bassist and prolific esoteric researcher Gary Lachman on behalf of the Jean Gebser Society. We covered a lot of ground. Among other things we engaged the issue of how many esoteric thinkers may be regarded as genuine participants in the history of philosophy proper, something that is often neglected both from the esoteric perspective, and from the mainstream philosophical perspective. Comments Gary:

“I see very clear similarities between, say, some of Alfred North Whitehead's ideas about perception and René Schwaller de Lubicz’s notion of an “intelligence of the heart”, and Henri Bergson’s intuition, and the ideas of Iain McGilchrist on the differences between the left and right cerebral hemispheres’ ways of interacting with the world. I write about these in The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus and The Caretakers of the Cosmos. They are all talking about the same thing, and that's what matters. We need to be able to draw on whatever material is available and can help us understand what it is we are trying to grasp. The way Whitehead talks about “meaning perception” in his little book Symbolism, Its Meaning and Effect, is very much along the same lines as how Schwaller de Lubicz describes the “intelligence of the heart”. This should not be surprising, as they are both talking about consciousness. We need to forget the kind of snobbishness that can infect both traditions, the esotericists who turned their nose up at “mere philosophy”, and the philosophers who say all this esoteric stuff is rubbish. Again, people like Henry Corbin who introduced ideas about the “imaginal world” and Persian mystics like Suhrawardi started out as a phenomenologist. There is a great deal in common between the phenomenological approach and the Gurdjieff work; Heidegger and Gurdjieff share a lot of territory. The stepping back from the “natural standpoint” that is the essence of Husserl’s work is not vastly different from esoteric approaches to altering consciousness”.— Read the full interview here.