The Mind Parasites (Colin Wilson)

“The Mind Parasites” came about when Wilson criticized a bloke named H P Lovecraft in one of his works. August Derleth, Lovecraft’s posthumous publisher and apologist, made a challenge to Wilson – saying, essentially “If you think Lovecraft was such a lousy writer, why don’t you do better yourself?” Wilson relished the challenge and set out to do just that. This book is the result. In fact, it can’t really be regarded as part of the Lovecraftian cycle – it takes too many liberties with the canon for that – but in its own right it’s an amazing work. We are not the top of the food chain; we have an energy predator which is feeding off of us and also restructuring the world in its image — this is the new world order.

This 1967 novel takes as its premise that for many centuries, the human mind has been under attack by the “mind parasites” of the title, a conspiracy rather like David Icke’s belief in lizards manipulating the world behind the scenes. And things like the romantic movement and the suicide epidemic among thinkers and artists are the results of this infection. The heroes of the story develop a way of developing the mind to fight back. I think this book should get the special “kid glove” treatment reserved for first novels, but really it doesn’t need it. Apart from the rather subdued climax, and a crude dismissive attitude toward women, this book is right up there with any classic work you can name when it comes to generating suspense while throwing around plenty of metaphysical theories.

Despite impressive technical advances the planet is still in the stone age psychologically. Who would profit from turning the clock all the way back to the stone age and keeping man out of space? A parasitic entity that lives in the human body and could not survive space. Only in the last two hundred years have technological advances made space exploration a possibility. By maintaining control of inner space the parasites can block any discovery or destroy anyone who suspects their existence. *Spoiler alert* In Mr. Wilson’s narrative it is a space voyage that finally defeats the parasites. They cannot survive in space. As the space craft travels further and further from the earth the parasites, still lurking in the crew, are in a panic.

“Now they felt their psychic links with the earth stretching and growing weaker and they were frightened. We now understood the nature of ‘space fever’ that had so far frustrated all men’s efforts to penetrate further into space.” Known, watched, the parasites became desperate. They now reveal themselves as creatures of a low intelligence floundering about like a beached squid. To sum it all up: as man loses touch with his inner being he finds himself trapped in the world of consciousness. That is to say the world of other people. “Man is a political animal” said Aristotle, telling one of the greatest lies in human history. For every man has more in common with the hills and with the stars than with other men. Other men do not supply our values. Other men do not matter in the way we have believed. Man is not alone. You could be the last man in the universe and you would not be alone…

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Comments

  1. I like the look of this novel, the premise sounds immensely creepy. I’ll have to pick this up and give it a read sometime. Excellent review as always!

    Like

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