The most obvious similarity is that they’re all writers whether of fiction or non-fiction or both, but that definitely isn’t the defining characteristic and says nothing directly about why I like them as people. More importantly, they’re all simultaneously very intellectual and very imaginative. And they had intellects and imaginations that were closely linked. This relates to an article I came across when doing a search about these authors.
The New Religious Consciousness, by Joseph M. Felser, Ph.D.
“What all of these investigators share is a profound commitment, first and foremost, to what I have been calling ‘inquiry’. They possess a firm conviction, based on personal experience, of what James termed ‘the reality of the unseen’, coupled with an equally firm refusal to insult this mysterious reality by giving it a final name or definition, or even by providing a ‘one size fits all’ set of directions for relating to it. For each of them, the individual search itself is the essential form of religious practice, and the continuing process of inquiry is more important than any particular answer obtained, or experience enjoyed, along the (infinite) way. What each demonstrates by his or her example-James, for instance, had openly wondered about his own mental and physical health following a mysterious but intriguing episode in which he seemed to be having three different dreams simultaneously- is that rigorous self-questioning is the mark of a strong and clear mind, not a weak and murky one; and that it is possible to take religious experiences extremely seriously and to accept the reality of phenomena which orthodox science dismisses without at the same time becoming dogmatically attached to any particular theory of said phenomena. And this shows that it is neither necessary nor advisable to jettison the critical faculties or curb one’s inquisitiveness in order to fully participate in the religious quest.”
“In line with this self-consciously evolutionary perspective, these explorers typically view the act of self-questioning, not as an abstract intellectual exercise, or as a temporary means to an end, but as an inherently sacred space: a carefully fashioned receptacle for the divine mystery; an opening into which the Transcendent can flow.”
That definitely gets at an important aspect, but there is something else that makes these writers stand out to me. I find they’re writing style, they’re attitude toward’s life to be refreshing. They are seekers and questioners, but they do so in a specific way.
As I was writing this, my friend(known as BrightAbyss on his forum OpenSourceIntegral) messenged me. I told him about this blog and what I was thinking about. He gave me this link and its perfect:
To quote from this blog:
“Ideas are Toys. The Search for Truth is a Game.
Believe Nothing. Explore Everything”
Now, that gets to the essence of this kind of person. This is what I strive for. I wish I had this attitude much more often.
I heard many interviews with Terrence McKenna before he died. He was very lively, bubbling with ideas, curiosity and excitement… very playful and humorous. It doesn’t matter if I agreed with him. I simply liked him as a person. He was a celebrity of sorts, but he never talked down to people. I’m not an Extravert and his lighthearted gregariousness is something that doesn’t come natural to me. Maybe that is why I idealize it a bit. I also get the same vibe from reading biographies about Philip K. Dick. Both McKenna and PKD seemed to genuinely like people. I like people who like people. I’m strange like that.
Another minor similarity between McKenna and PKD is that they did drugs, but PKD said he never did psychedelics. I’d say this drug-use is significant in at least one way. It implies a hunger for experience, a desire to know directly, a longing for gnosis. Both of these guys I would define as being spiritual. I know that both McKenna and PKD had intense life-transforming experiences. In PKD’s case, he spent the last decade of his life obsessed with his encounter with the divine.
Neither of these writers are ones that I read all of the time, but I do keep returning to them. There are other writers whose ideas I’m more focused on. I can be an overly serious person and I’m always reading about over-arching theories. I guess my motivation for writing this blog entry is to remind myself of something I too often forget.