Oct 24

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Charles Comments: No doubt retitled “Colin Wilson and The Sorcerer’s Stone” for the US edition.
Published 1974

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.83 out of 10)

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33 Responses to “The Philosopher’s Stone”

  1. Billy Awesome Says:

    You wouldn’t like the disembodied, parboiled head of Yul Brynner when he’s angry.

  2. B. Chiclitz Says:

    That T-Rex seems to be having way too good a time. Guess he doesn’t know that the “stone” in question is about to cause the K-T extinction.

  3. B. Chiclitz Says:


  4. fred Says:

    OK, I’ll be the one to ask the question even though I am not a Philosopher. Stone can what?

  5. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    The Philosopher’s stone. Tyrannosaurus looks right limber, though.

  6. THX 1138 Says:

    The Beast of Yucky Flats?

  7. Ray P Says:

    Terry Gilliam tried his hand at sf book-covers after Monty Python.

  8. Tat Wood Says:

    The happy dinosaur was collecting up the eggs and got the disembodied angry head of Inspector Clouseau’s boss as well. It’s the little-seen Nanosaur sequel, barred by the Mirisch company’s lawyers..

  9. Bibliomancer Says:

    Reminds me of the eye on the pyramid on the back of the dollar bill.

  10. Tat Wood Says:

    This is the same Colin Wilson who was touted as Britain’s very own Jean-Paul Sartre in the mid-50s, isn’t it? He also wrote the novel upon which the hilariously naff film ‘Life Force’ was based.

    He thought he was the greatest living Englishman. The publishers apparently disagreed.

  11. Anna T. Says:

    @fred: The philosopher’s stone was supposed to be able to either turn lead into gold, or possibly give immortality. The stereotypical pursuit of alchemists in the Middle Ages and later was finding it.

    NOTHING about this cover has anything to do with alchemy in any way, shape or form. There is a cairn made of stones, but I don’t know why the purple man’s been buried in it.

    What this cover needs most is a “WTF” tag. Hey Tag Wizard, you listening?

  12. Tat Wood Says:

    @ Anna T.: All right, I’ll bite. The turning lead into gold thing was only a test, the real object of the Chrysopoeia was to purify. Immortality was part of the deal but so was removing the Earthly taint that made lead out of the more ‘spiritual’ metal and made corrupt humanity prey to illness and age.

    So, metaphorically, the mortification of the flesh practiced by mystics is represented here by everything blow the neck becoming petrified and inert, containing neither Earth, Air, Fire nor Water.

    More probably, this being a 70s Panther cover, the artist was terrified of Walnut Whips and painted this after a cheese sandwich before bedtime wrecked his sleep. Some time later he had this painting lying around and a last-minute commission to do a cover for a sleazy horror novel by a discredited ex-philosopher and the publishers thought, ‘soddit, that’ll do.’

  13. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Tat Wood—thanks for erudite commentary. I get the Earth (where the cairn sits), Air (where the floating things are floating), Water (those beady sweat beads) and Fire (literally, tongues-o-fire). But my real question is: where does the eggplant figure in?

  14. fred Says:

    @ Anna T.: I am familiar with the Philosopher’s Stone. I was more concerned with ‘stone can’ being chiseled into one of the rocks in the pile.

  15. Tat Wood Says:

    @B.Chiclitz: “Philosopher’s Stone? I can make it at home for nothing! All I need is cinnabar, aqua fortis, blue vitriol, omnium florum and a sma-a-a-all aubergine.”

    (If you’re unfamiliar with ‘Goodness Gracious Me” this will mean nothing, but I can’t find the requisite clip online).

  16. Ray P Says:

    So the head (of the O.T.O.) is Aleister Crowley?

  17. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @Ray: are you looking at the same cover I’m looking at? That fellow’s too butch to be Crowley, he’s Hervé Villechaize.

  18. JuanPaul Says:

    These new age spas have gotten out of hand.

  19. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Tat Wood—is this it? I did not know this show. Pretty good sketch comedy, though I’m sure a few, or not a few, of the cultural pointers escape me.

  20. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Whoa! That looks one of those surrealistic ads for medications:

    “When you’ve got piles THIS big, and a heartburn that’s LITERALLY out of this world, try the new Double-Acting Thermocine Formula from Pillex…”

  21. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “In the chilling H.P. Lovecraft tradition”…

    Ahem. This cover is a bit too “day-glo” and in-your-face for a Lovecraft story, dontchathink…? Imagine that:

    “Slowly the creaking door opens, and in the bright light from the electric lamps I behold… the unutterable horror of Thrhuch-Hftolthu… looking exactly like a purple bald head spouting flames, resting on a pile of small gray rocks. The end is near!”

  22. Anna T. Says:

    @fred: I didn’t notice the writing earlier, but it doesn’t make any more sense the longer you think about it.

    @Tat Wood: Thanks for the info. It was very informative.

    Oh, and by the way, where’s the “WTF” tag? I still don’t see one.

  23. B. Chiclitz Says:

    Worst production of Beckett’s “Happy Days” ever staged.

  24. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @B’man (9): This was the first draft, but the Continental Congreff, to a man (and the wives and maidservants who heard about it) burst into hysterical laughter.

    The scene was too unbelievable to put into “Hamilton”. Also no one could figure out what rhymes with “eggplant-head cairn, UFO, and dinosaur”.

  25. fred Says:

    Trump proposes a few changes to the symbols on the US dollar bill.

  26. Francis Boyle Says:

    Three words that should not go together: Tyrannosaurus jazz hands.

  27. Bibliomancer Says:

    Barney Rubble

  28. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @B’man: GSS! I can’t believe no one came up with that for 3 years.

    @Tat (10): I’ve had a look over Wilson’s bio and works as represented by that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia. I think “hilariously naff” would describe much of his work. Minus some hilarity, maybe.

  29. Bruce A Munro Says:

    “If I hide the philosopher’s stone in a pile of identical stones in the early Cretaceous, nobody will ever find it! And if I hide in the pile of stones, nobody will ever find me! It’s the perfect plan!”

    “What’s the giant fire-breathing head on top for?”

    “To scare away the dinosaurs and space men, of course. Do I have to explain everything?

  30. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Bruce: of course! It’s all so simple.

    Although if the PS is the engraved one, not so much.

  31. THX 1139 Says:

    Wilson was a compulsive writer who seemingly had an opinion on everything, but quickly began to specialise in the paranormal and occult, with a mixed reaction.

    One of his pronouncements I recall was that men are attracted to women’s cleavages because they remind them of the buttocks. Which sounds like art direction for a GSS cover, if nothing else. Still, he was famous for a while, but cursed never to make a lasting impact outside of a coterie of his faithful. He was kind of ridiculous.

  32. GSS ex-noob Says:

    He was the epitome of the type who has a wunderkind moment, and then has a 30’s slump, followed by going completely doolally as he aged.

    I enjoyed what Kirkus Reviews had to say. I nearly LOL when hitting a certain 3 letter exclamation towards the end.

  33. Hammy Says:

    Now I have the strangest urge to sing Monty Python’s “Philosopher’s Song”….

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