‘advanced, forthright, signifficant’
Reading, courtesy of Deptford junk market, Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, a book that can’t help but seem very strange 50 years after its publication. What is so startling about it isn’t its conclusions- what we have here is a fairly schematic list of the comments of a few poetes maudits, painters and philosophers on the perennial theme of the world’s like, unrealness- but the demented erudition born of autodidacticism, the pile up of detail upon detail. The sense that the writer assumes the reader is interested in knowing stuff, has as ferocious a thirst for knowledge as he does. Accordingly it sits oddly today among specialisation and jargon on one side and empiricist obscurantism on another. This faintly silly book feels weirdly valuable, a product of a period of expansion of education, of class mobility- hence, presumably Simon Reynolds’ namecheck in his Ghost Box piece.