I’m researching the history of ecstasy and ecstatic experiences in modern western culture, how spiritual ecstasy got pathologised from the Enlightenment to the present day, and how people found new ways to get out of their heads. An important part of that story is rock & roll and other forms of pop and dance music, Read more…

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This week, I’ve been researching an ancient mnemonic technique called ‘the mind palace’, where people imprint a real or imagined building onto their memory – a palace, a mansion, a church, even a whole street – and then fill it with striking images, to which they attach bits of information they want to remember. The Read more…

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In my review of Sam Harris’ Waking Up two weeks ago, I wrote this sentence: “Spiritual experiences tell us something about the cosmos,…the experience of infinite loving-consciousness is a glimpse of the very ground of being, also sometimes called God, Brahman, Allah, the Logos, the Tao, the Buddha-realm.” This sentence seemed to surprise some people Read more…

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I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Haidt on Monday at the RSA. Haidt, as you all know, wrote The Happiness Hypothesis, which really inspired me. I gave him a copy of my new book, so if you see it in a bin near the Strand, it’s yours! Haidt’s own new book is called The Read more…

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When he was a student at Yale University, Stephen Greenblatt wandered to the local bookstore to pick up some holiday reading, and his eye was caught by a strange-looking book with a painting by Max Ernst on the cover, showing disembodied torsos copulating in the sky. Naturally he bought it. It turned out to be Read more…

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