I have been editor of the journal of the Scientific and Medical Network - now called Paradigm Explorer - since 1986. In December 2019, we published issue 100. A special feature is the book review section, where I review more than 150 books a year across a number of fields including philosophy, consciousness studies, ecology and politics.
Editorial – 100th Issue as Editor
This issue marks my 100th as editor of what started as the Network
Newsletter, as you can see from the piece that follows from January 1974.
I first met George Blaker in the summer of 1983 when I was teaching
philosophy and languages at Winchester College. Out of the blue, I
received a letter from George inviting me to join the Network. I
duly replied in the affirmative and sent my subscription of £10 for the
year. A few weeks later, George invited me over to Ockley for lunch at The
Crown in Capel, a neighbouring village. After only about 10 minutes, he
said that I was just the kind of person he was looking for to take over the
Network. I immediately knew intuitively that this would be my path, and
joined the Council in the autumn.
I then left Winchester in the summer of 1986 and moved to
Gloucestershire. In October, I drove out to France to conduct a seminar
at Le Plan Centre near Le Castellet - not far from Toulon - with Sir
George Trevelyan, on The New Gnostics. We subsequently ran
seminars on The New Essenes and the New Cathars - and now I find
myself living in just that area of south-west France. I arrived back via
Heidelberg and Alsace, beginning my work for the Network on
November 9. George had used a manual typewriter, and I now invested
in a new electric typewriter to begin my work (the first Network computer
came online in 1988).
As I have written in an earlier brief editorial to celebrate 30 years working for the Network, the pace and nature of the day was very different in the absence of technology. The main business was conducted by post and over a few phone calls, with no more than six items arriving on any given day unless a conference was in the offing. Application forms arrived for membership, and I wrote a letter of welcome which I posted in the local post office at Northleach with a copy of the current newsletter and Members’ Directory. I had plenty of time to pursue a wide range of activity.
One of my first main tasks was to produce Newsletter No. 32, which I did reflecting the then ‘design’ with a blank page in front and in A5 size with minimal formatting. I found a local printer in Cheltenham, AJ Green – Allan, his wife Jennie and son David, who did all our printing - including leaflets - for the first five years. I would then often drive down to Cornwall to Paul Filmore’s house - where he still lives - to finalise the copy and have labels printed out on his then state-of-the-art dot matrix printer - lasers were a thing of the future. I remember there being 413 labels for Members in December 1986, plus maybe another 200 for Friends. These all had to be stuck individually onto envelopes, and, when back in Hampnett, I stuffed all the envelopes myself, added individual stamps, and took the boxes down to the post office for collection. I also remember the mortification of seeing my first serious typo in the contents section of that first newsletter where Willis Harman’s article was about widsom rather than wisdom!
As far as I can remember, there were no book reviews in that first issue. This line developed gradually, and one of the first major reviews I remember writing was of Transformations of Consciousness by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler and Daniel P Brown - written of course on my electric typewriter and therefore with no electronic copy. Gradually, the extensive book review section grew to be a unique feature of the journal, with so many coming in that I soon had to establish a books in brief section following the main reviews. The format gradually evolved with the help of Dr John Miller, as you can see from the images, and the title became Network Review and, with Number 124 in the summer of 2017, Paradigm Explorer. Kevin Ashbridge worked with me in Scotland in 1996, and set up the book review database, which had over 5,000 entries when I came to France in 2014. I still receive about 250 books a year and occasionally, when I am away for up to a fortnight, more than one a day has arrived during my trip!
The cumulative output of producing 100 issues of the journal is very considerable, and represents one of my most significant achievements over the past 30 years. It has also been an immense privilege to be in a position where I am learning all the time across a considerable range of disciplines, distilling many essential insights in the process - which I aim to pass on to readers, but which also form part of my own intellectual and spiritual development, along with our programme of conferences - especially Mystics and Scientists and Beyond the Brain. As such, I regard myself as a curator who has been creatively exhibiting and communicating a selection of important works for you, my readers, over many years. On that note, I’d like to offer a seasonal toast - those who know me personally will probably think of champagne - to the many friends I have made through my role in the Network.