Portrait of Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler

Author and Journalist
September 5, 1905 – March 1, 1983

Arthur Koestler was a Hungarian author and journalist. Apart from his early school years in Budapest, he was educated in Austria. In 1931, Koestler joined the Communist Party of Germany, but he resigned in 1938 after becoming disillusioned with Stalinism.

Having moved to Britain in 1940, he published his novel Darkness at Noon, an anti-totalitarian work that gained him international fame. Over the next 43 years, Koestler espoused many political causes and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies, and numerous essays. In 1949, Koestler began secretly working with a British Cold War anti-communist propaganda department known as the Information Research Department (IRD), which would republish and distribute many of his works, and also fund his activities. In 1968, he was awarded the Sonning Prize "for his outstanding contribution to European culture". In 1972 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1976, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in 1979 with terminal leukemia. On March 1, 1983, Koestler and his wife Cynthia jointly committed suicide at their London home by swallowing lethal quantities of barbiturate-based Tuinal capsules.

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Alan Watts

Does It Matter?

In this short collection of essays, Alan Watts explores modern day problems from the outlook of his own philosophy, inspired mainly by Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Tackling problems of economics, technology, cooking and clothing, Watts offers a fresh perspective which is all too foreign to Western society. Published in 1970 just shortly before his death, this book is as relevant now as it was when it was written.

Terence McKenna

Evolving Times

This evening address is one of Terence’s funniest, in which much is said about monkeys, mushrooms, plants, and people. The question and answer session gets good and lively, with his unique analysis of UFOs, governments, and possible evolutionary pathways for us and the planet.

Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and John Perry Barlow

From Psychedelics to Cybernetics

Timothy Leary journeyed through Europe as head of the psychedelic revolution and consciousness research movement, and he invited some of his tagalong friends to this evening lecture held at the "Alte Feuerwache" in Mannheim to talk about the future evolution of humanity.

Tyler Volk

Metapatterns

In the interdisciplinary tradition of Buckminster Fuller’s work, Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature, and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, Metapatterns embraces both nature and culture, seeking out the grand-scale patterns that help explain the functioning of our universe. Metapatterns begins with the archetypal patterns of space, both form-building and relational. Tyler Volk then turns to the arrows, breaks, and cycles that infuse the workings of time. With artful dexterity, he brings together many layers of comprehension, drawing on an astounding range of material from art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, biology, geometry, and the atmospheric and oceanographic sciences. Richly illustrating his metapatterns with a series of sophisticated collages prepared for this book, Volk offers an exciting new look at science and the imagination. As playful and intuitive as it is logical and explanatory, Metapatterns offers an enlightening view of the functional, universal form in space, processes in time, and concepts in mind.

Gregory Bateson

Mind and Nature

Renowned for his contributions to anthropology, biology, and the social sciences, Bateson asserts that man must think as Nature does to live in harmony on the earth and, citing examples from the natural world, he maintains that biological evolution is a mental process.

Alan Watts

Q and A With God

After discussing the nature of consciousness, the human mind, and the philosophical viewpoint that every person is God, Alan Watts assumes the role of God himself for the latter half of this lecture, answering each question his audience serves with wit and insight.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Robots, Men, and Minds

Based on lectures delivered as The Inaugural Lectures in The Heinz Werner Lecture Series at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) in January 1966, the book introduces new conceptions of humans and their world. After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of humanity's propensity for the symbolic construction of reality, it focuses on the systems approach to an understanding of the species. The author warns against the common error of identifying cybernetics with general systems theory. No matter how complex the cybernetic system, it "can always be resolved into feedback circuits" and thought of in terms of "linear causality." The regulative behavior of general systems is determined by goal-directed, dynamic interaction between many forces and variables in an open system. Bertalanffy points out that "no comprehensive theory of systems exists today." As a model, however, the approach has many advantages, such as obviating the need for the "ghost in the machine" and suggesting some solutions to the mind-body problem.

Lancelot Law Whyte

The Universe of Experience

Modern experience forces philosophy and social thought to confront the basic problems of value. Is this life worth caring about? How can we find a way between the deceit of fanatical belief and despair? In the view of Lancelot Law Whyte, the essential challenge to mankind today is an underlying nihilism promoting violence and frustrating sane policies on major social issues. Avoiding the seductive trap of utopianism, Whyte approaches this challenge by defining the terms of a potentially worldwide consensus of heart, mind, and will.

Alan Watts

Turning the Head, or Turning On

Talking to an audience at San José State University, Alan Watts recounts the first time he tried consciousness-altering substances after meeting Aldous Huxley. He argues that Western society largely isn’t ready for the mystical experience which can be triggered in these mental states, but nonetheless advocates for them, as they may arouse positive transformation in the human collectivity.