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A Secret History of Consciousness Paperback – May 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1584200116 ISBN-10: 1584200111

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Lindisfarne Books (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584200111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584200116
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Sophisticated and impressive. Moving from meditations on prehistoric and Neanderthal consciousness to the 'irruptions of time' wrought on us by the pace of life and the 'simultaneities' of digital media and the Internet, Secret History of Consciousness packs a powerful punch. 9 out of 10 -- a white-water ride.' -- Mike Jay, Fortean Times 'In this remarkable book, Lachman has approached the subject from many different angles [and] offers ideas from many thinkers, providing a rich mix. Well worth the effort, and a book to go back to again and again.' -- Pamela Allsop, Light: A Review of Spiritual and Psychic Knowledge, Winter 2004 'What is lucidly and insightfully drawn together in this book is not so much a secret history as a neglected history. It can be read with profit both by those interested in the nature of consciousness and in the history of reflections upon its nature and characteristics. It is well referenced and has a helpful bibliography. This is a book which I would wish to refer to again.' -- Kevin Tingay, Christian Parapsychologist, March 2004 'There is much of interest in this informative work.' -- The Beacon, July 2004 'A useful and thought-provoking book, clearly and enthusiastically written and neatly contextualising many ideas. For those who have read deeply but not widely it will be an excellent overview and introduction to Steiner's antecedents and contemporaries.' -- Pat Cheney, New View, Autumn 2003 'A marvellously exhilarating gallop through every important modern theory of consciousness, from Steiner to Maslow, from Bucke's "cosmic consciousness" to Gebser's "integral consciousness".' -- Colin Wilson, author of The Occult and Mysteries 'Highly readable and interesting.' -- Greenock Telegraph, 10 October 2003 'A must read for those seeking an escape from our contemporary culture's cul-de-sac.' -- Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open The Head 'Lachman challenges many contemporary theories by reinserting a sense of the spiritual back into the discussion ... Profoundly erudite, yet easy to read, this book is a provocative mind-stretcher.' -- Leonard Schlain, author of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess 'This book is itself a cultural correction to the overemphasis on the material aspect of life.' -- David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network Review, Spring 2007

About the Author

Gary Lachman is the former bass player and composer for Blondie, the guitarist for Iggy Pop, and leader of his own groups The Know and Fire Escape. He has written for the Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review and Mojo. He is the author of Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius (2000) and New York Rocker (2002). He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A Secret History of Consciousness is a fascinating book.
For anyone interested in consciousness and where we may be headed as a species this book is highly recommended.
Dr. Richard G. Petty
The mind of somebody else would seem like an alien world to you.
Robert S. Robbins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard G. Petty on June 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read a great many books, and most seem to have one or two new ideas or a re-hash of something familiar. So it's easy to get the gist of most of them and to move on.

But then there are some books to savor. Books that demand care and focus. Most of these demanding books soon become covered in notes, comments and annotations, and if I feel that people might be helped by a review, it is these that make the cut. I have now read three of Gary Lachman's books: this one, The Dedalus Book of the Occult: A Dark Muse, and Turn off Your Mind. All three have been excellent and demanding.

Gary is evidently an interesting person. A former musician and composer with the band Blondie, he first began his explorations of consciousness between gigs. But unlike so many of his generation, he decided to do something less ephemeral than soak himself in psychedelics.

This book is an exploration of the possibility and the potential that we have to transform our consciousness, not just personally but also as a society. This is not an idle preoccupation: many of us feel that we must transform if we are to survive as a species. Yet there is also another piece to this: if and when we transform, that transformation is associated with its own parcel of challenges. Over the last few centuries, we have already begun to change physically and psychologically, and these changes help explain the rapid emergence and evolution of new laws of life and of healing.

Gary Lachman has something in common with Colin Wilson, who contributed a deeply insightful forward to the book. Both have felt feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and these feelings have propelled them to see what else is out there.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Neil Bishop on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Gary Lachman, the author of the highly engaging Turn Off Your Mind, has, with this new work, again written a very lively account of a part of modern intellectual history. This book traces the development, from the late 19th century up to our own time, of the idea of the collective transformation of human consciousness, both the evidence of such evolution in the past, and speculation about future evolution. A fascinating array of thinkers is presented, at a pace that is fast but not superficial. Even readers who are already familiar with these thinkers will find much to engage their minds and send them off into profound reflections of their own. One important measure of this book's success is that it has inspired this reader to go directly to the works of the authors covered.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Robbins on January 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't believe consciousness evolved but this book is a good overview of various theories as to how it could have evolved. I suspect that if you could experience another's mind, you would find significant differences in consciousness even within our present time. The mind of somebody else would seem like an alien world to you. Anyone who possesses exceptional access to their unconscious mind is aware of how alien and distorted its perception can be and this distortion of perception is even present, in a very subtle manner, during full consciousness.

The author does explore an interesting concept, duo-consciousness, the hypnagogic state between sleep and consciousness in which it is possible to dream while being partially awake. He even speculates about consciously induced hypnogogia, the first reference to this secret ability I've seen in print. But he does not go far enough in his speculation. Given exceptional access to the unconscious it is possible to enter the hypnagogic state at will. It is possible to awaken the unconscious into activity by consciously recalling dream imagery, even snatches of long forgotten dreams, and thereby bring it into a near conscious state to the point of experiencing irrational fears. More interesting, it is possible to acquire some of the imaginative capabilities of the dream state and create highly unexpected mental imagery as random, mild hallucinations which are nevertheless subject to some conscious direction towards specific images. This is day dreaming empowered with the faculty of true dreaming! Baudelaire once described this as the poet's gift to dream exceptionally well.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Lange on May 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up without any preconceptions. I just wanted to read more about the history of consciousness, having become interested in the topic over the years. To my delight, Gary Lachman's book opened some great avenues for further study. I was unfamiliar with most of the authors he discusses in depth, other than some notables like Bucke and Gurdjieff. To my delight, he gave a really good overview of Jean Gebser, whose writing I greatly admire, and who made some amazing breakthroughs in the study of the evolution of consciousness. Fourtunately for me, Lachman not only gave clear descriptions of the writers he surveys, but also shows the development of their ideas. There is also a very good bibliography for further explorations. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a student of the evolution and levels of consciousness from a "western" perspective.
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More About the Author

Gary Lachman (1955- ) was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, but has lived in London, England since 1996. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, he is now a full time writer with more than a dozen books to his name, on topics ranging from the evolution of consciousness and the western esoteric tradition, to literature and suicide, and the history of popular culture. Lachman writes frequently for many journals in the US and UK, and lectures on his work in the US, UK, and Europe.His work has been translated into several languages. His website is http://garylachman.co.uk/
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