Monday, July 8, 2013

The Path of Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson (1926-2013), author of such influential novels as I Am Legend (1954), The Shrinking Man (1956) and Hell House (1971), passed away recently--on Sunday, the 23rd of June--at the age of 87.  Though he wrote many classic novels, short stories, teleplays and screenplays in a wide range of genres (everything from westerns to war stories to comedies to biopics to mainstream melodramas), without a doubt he was best known for his supernatural short stories.  Many of these contemporary tall tales, in the form of the numerous haunting teleplays he wrote for such television shows as the original version of The Twilight Zone, have embedded themselves firmly in the collective consciousness of most Americans without many of them ever having heard the name "Richard Matheson."

His first published short story, entitled "Born of Man and Woman" (1950), though only a few pages long, contains more raw terror and intensity than any 500-page novel by either Stephen King or Dean R. Koontz (and King and Koontz would agree with that statement), and is a portentous omen of the types of stories Matheson would hone to perfection later in his six-decade-long career.  In fact, Matheson chose "Born of Man and Woman" as the title piece of his debut story collection, published by Chamberlain Press in 1954.

But the Matheson book that will be of the greatest interest to any dedicated cryptoscatologist is his 1993 metaphysical nonfiction book THE PATH, a curious condensation and reinterpretation of Harold W. Percival's classic but obscure Theosophical tome--over 1,000 pages long and the result of 34 years of research--entitled THINKING AND DESTINY (1946) which deals, in Percival's own words, "with the entirety of the universe beyond the range of human thought."  In The Path, Matheson attempts to simplify Percival's heady thoughts about the occult destiny of mankind into simple language that can be easily comprehended by the layman.

By the way, Percival also wrote a valuable book about Freemasonry entitled MASONRY AND ITS SYMBOLS (1952), which I would highly recommend for anyone interested in casting light on the hidden meanings of Masonry.

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