A Secret History of Consciousness by Gary Lachman (2003)
A Secret History of Consciousness is a fascinating book. I came across this book browsing Borders a few years back, sounded interesting, then I noticed it was written by the former bass player from Blondie. Luckily, it wasn't something that made me NOT want to read it. Plus the Intro by Colin Wilson didn't hurt.
It took a while, but eventually I sat down and started to read this. It took a while to get through the whole thing due to my reading habits of jumping from book to book, but none-the-less, I was never disappointed in this. I do think it started better than it ended, it was more, open, at the beginning. Overall it is a wide exploration of various ideas in consciousness and metaphysics. From Blavatsky to Kant to Colin Wilson, do not enter into this reading unless you have a very open mind and a willingness to at least try some very unusual ideas. It even got me to accept Julian Jaynes work a bit.
Overall, the book explores the way consciousness may have evolved over time... and for that matter, where it may be going. It suggests the various ways consciousness may have perceived reality over time, and the aspects of perception that have changed over aeons. It goes into purely speculative realms, as well as exploring things in a more scientific, or at least philosophical manner. Near the end, he seems to be trying to pull some of the stranger ideas together as a true history, and that is the only part which I feel wasn't as interesting. The ideas are speculations, interesting ones, to be sure, but just ideas. There is no reason to validate them over any others.
I think Gary does an excellent job at least engaging your ability to think about where consciousness has been, and where it may be going. Not to mention the various states of consciousness that we are already capable of, even if we aren't aware of them. I haven't read the works of people like Blavatsky and Immanuel Kant in many, many years, and, as least in the case of the latter, it reminded me of just how much I liked his work. In the case of the former, it allowed me to re-consider the value of her work, and also enlightened me to other thinkers are authors that I have not known as of yet.
Overall, this is highly recommended, and I am glad that I decided to pick this up. The thing about the physical book store, is that you can find things like this, things you weren't looking for. Things you didn't know you wanted. I love being able to find just about anything on a site like Amazon, but it is far less likely that I will come across something like this at random.