“If Knowledge Is Power, It Is Also Pain”

Introduction to Daydream Believer

Mitch Horowitz
9 min readJul 21, 2022


“What are all beliefs but the possibilities of I?” — Austin Osman Spare, The Focus of Life

Several years prior to this writing, a famous political operative — someone you would immediately recognize and perhaps be surprised by — asked me to meet him at a suite in a posh Park Avenue hotel. I biked up from my then-home on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As I settled into a sofa with my helmet in my lap, he asked me: “Who is the best writer in New Thought?” My questioner referred to the philosophy of positive-mind metaphysics that began in the transcendentalist ferment of New England in the mid-to-late 1800s and mushroomed across the nation.

“Neville,” I immediately replied, referring to Neville Goddard, one of the most intriguing mystical voices of the past century.

“No,” he said, ribbing me — “I didn’t ask who’s the coolest, I asked who’s the best.”

I repeated my assessment. The British-Barbadian Neville, whose career spanned from the late 1930s until his death in California in 1972, was a resplendent speaker who, under his solitary first name, wrote more than ten books on the limitless powers of thought. He has been my greatest influence. But I have differences with Neville’s ideas, which I do not believe cover the full gamut of human crises and mortality. I wondered then as I have other times: who could I recommend unreservedly?

Although I do not approve of the actions of the political figure who put the question to me, I nonetheless determined to allow it to serve as a personal goad. I decided right there to adopt it as my challenge to lay out a metaphysics of thought causation that shied from neither the sublime heights of possibility nor the severity of the barriers facing us. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his journals of February 22, 1824: “If Knowledge be power, it is also Pain.”

“If Knowledge be power, it is also Pain.”

Daydream Believer is the result of that effort. It deals with the interdimensional and infinite nature of your psyche — by which I mean a compact of thought and emotion — and also the paradoxical limits that create the tension of existence.



Mitch Horowitz

"Treats esoteric ideas & movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness"-Washington Post | PEN Award-winning historian | Censored in China