Monday, 23 June 2014

Why I am fascinated by William Arkle


Why am I fascinated by William Arkle's work - why have his writings (and also paintings) hit me like a bolt of lightning? 

There are two answers - 

First: That what Arkle has to say is important and relevant to current cultural needs; and has validity because (I believe) it comes from well-motivated and genuine mystical-experiential insights. 

Second: I can perceive - in retrospect - that I was 'meant' to be doing this many, many years ago - and have been ignoring strong 'hints' to this effect since the mid-1970s...


1. As a teenager I lived in the same village (Backwell) as William Arkle - probably overlapping for about a decade; and my sister knew his wife and daughter (via an interest in horses).

2. I used to be close friends with Arkle's next door neighbours - visiting often and staying as a guest a few times. And these were 'neighbours' in the sense of being two of only three residences - the other was a farm - on top of a hill and with no other houses for a radius of about a mile in all directions!

3. I saw a BBC television documentary program about Arkle in about 1976, and was both amazed and reluctantly fascinated by the idea of a spiritual 'guru' living so near-by. 

4. I read his book Geography of Consciousness in 1978, having I discovered a copy in the Edinburgh City Library after my family had moved from Somerset to Scotland. The introduction to GoC led me to read Colin Wilson, and from then on I read a lot of CW - however, I tended to regard Arkle as essentially a Wilsonite; an influence on CW, rather than a thinker in his own right. 

5. Nonetheless I loved the first section of GoC about awakening in the morning, throwing back the curtains etc. It stuck in my mind and fascinated me - so from 1978 I was looking-out for a secondhand copy of the book. I would often check for this whenever I went to a secondhand shop. I never found a copy anywhere. 

This led to the most clear-cut example of synchronicity of my whole life. 

I was walking through the Bloomsbury area of London, near the British Museum, sometime in the mid-1980s when I saw an unusual-looking little bookshop (it may have been an Eastern Religious or Anthroposophical shop, I can't recall); and it came into mind that they may have a copy of Arkle's book - or perhaps that they did have a copy. I walked into the shop, and straight to an upper shelf (no looking around) where there was the book - apparently waiting for me. 

6. I even visited William Arkle's house (in about 1982-4) and spent an excellent evening with his son Nick (an electronic music composer - he was showing me around his studio). During this visit I actually saw William Arkle, and said hello to him. But I didn't take things any further. 

7. In early 2008, just before a visit to Glastonbury, I discovered the web pages and discovered that the Arkle family had relocated to Glastonbury before Arkle died in 2000. While I was in Glastonbury, I asked a couple of people if they knew about him (in a cafe and a book shop), but drew a blank. 

8. However, it was only after the death of Colin Wilson earlier this year that I read, and really engaged with, and finally understood William Arkle.  


The significance of all this is that, in retrospect, it is clear to me that I was supposed to meet Bill Arkle, or at least to engage fully with his ideas, for several decades before I actually did so. 

And by 'supposed' I think I mean by some kind of divine providence - because nobody else could have laid-on all these encounters. 


My understanding (and I don't much care what other people may think about it! - after all, synchronicities are not designed to be any kind of scientific proof or legal evidence or public rhetoric) is that this was a path set out for me to take, for my own good - but a path that I resolutely and repeatedly avoided treading. 

I was given chance after chance, hint after hint - all of which I rejected. 

Who knows what might have happened has I taken notice of these chances and hints - but I did not!


So I start from where I am, belatedly.

Perhaps I was not ready earlier, because it was not until 2008-9 that I became a Christian and open to the reality of the divine, and then it took longer before I felt able to discern when someone was a real mystic - speaking with the validity of direct personal experience, and probably I also needed to understand and align-with Mormon theology to appreciate Arkle's particular contribution.

Or perhaps I would have been ready earlier if I had taken notice of the chances and hints. 

Anyway, that is why I am now reading and thinking about William Arkle with such intensity.