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Tim O'Reilly (Founder/O'Reilly Media)Colin Wilson's The Outsider is another book that addresses the same theme: the untapped power of the mind and its constant battle with the world, to make sense of it, or be broken by it. But the book is also significant for me because at 23, reading this book, I wanted to write something as good as Wilson had done at that age. (For a wonderful story recapitulating Wilson's ideas, I also recommend his takeoff on H.P. Lovecraft, The Mind Parasites.) Wilson also shaped my relationship to books. So many critics write about literature and philosophy as a dead thing, an artifact. Wilson writes about it as a conversation with another mind about what is true.
The classic study of alienation, creativity and the modern mind
THE OUTSIDER was an instant literary sensation when it was first published in 1956, thrusting its youthful author into the front rank of contemporary writers and thinkers. Wilson rationalized the psychological dislocation so characteristic of Western creative thinking into a coherent theory of alienation, and defined those affected by it as a type: the outsider. Through the works and lives of various artists, including Kafka, Camus, Hemingway, Hesse, Lawrence, Van Gogh, Shaw, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, Wilson explored the psyche of the outsider, his effect on society and society's on him.
Nothing that has happened in the decades since has made THE OUTSIDER any less relevant; it remains the seminal work on this most persistent of modern-day preoccupations.
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