A Heresy for the 21st Century

Jerusalem-William Blake
Jerusalem-William Blake

Increasingly in the Western democracies there has been a polarisation between the ‘progressive’ left and the emboldened hard right that has resulted in a decay of political discourse. As they hold diametrically opposing views regarding almost everything it seems that no compromise is possible, especially as the one aspect they have in common means each side views the other as deluded at best, if not actively in league with evil. The shared trait that can be gleaned through all the glaring differences is a general Gnostic worldview and a belief in gnosis. Reading writers with progressive views one regularly encounters the term woke and a discussion on a given persons degree of wokeness. A central tenet of Western Esotericism (one directly borrowed from Gnosticism) is to wake up to the true nature of the world, beyond the reality directly perceived by the senses. To be woke means you have been roused from sleep and become aware of the power structures that oppress the vast majority of humanity while controlling all aspects of existence on earth. Conversely the alt-right often speak of being ‘red-pilled’, a term taken from The Matrix, a film of pure gnosticism. Take the blue pill and you stay safe in an ersatz world that is little more that a hologram created by malevolent entities; take the red-pill and you see the world as the prison it really is.

To trace how the progressive left and the hard right came to the same conclusion (though with markedly conflicting proposals for solutions) we are going to have to trace the history of Gnostic thought from 2nd Century AD Alexandria via Northern Italy and Southern France in the 12th-14th Century, detouring to take in the Jewish mystics of the Iberian peninsula during Muslim rule and onto the outpourings of a solitary English genius till we reach the 20th Century when a Swiss psychologist, an American science fiction writer, a French Marxist theorist, the Godfathers of Rap and various occultists, confidence tricksters and cult leaders, amongst others, along with a spectacular discovery in the desert laid the ground for the revival of the most perennial of heresies; Gnosticism. All of which to follow shortly.

30 thoughts on “A Heresy for the 21st Century

      1. Yes the scale is pretty massive, but even your summary/preview makes a solid argument for those connections. I await your elaborations with great anticipation!

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  1. I think the thing that scares people about it most is that one can’t just get back to sleep. The irreversible aspect really does appellate to humans nature, the want to leave a back door somehow. Not many people can cope with the truth, most are satisfied with feeble explanations and live on blindfolded.

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  2. This ought to be interesting, can’t wait to read more of your take on things! I remember many mystics and channelers, back in 2012 talking about the Shift or the Ascension. I am pretty sure it has occurred, but I suspect it only takes place within individuals as they are willing to allow it to happen…

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    1. Well that would be gnosis in a nutshell. I will refer at some point to The Voyage to Arcturus which addresses the layers and layers of illusion but all in good time.

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      1. I am intrigued. Heresy is a strange word for the 21st century, when most of us are not having any particular orthodoxy imposed. But then again there is a general group-think that a lot of folks follow. Some of the ideas that came with the Awakening were just too much for people to handle. Also hard to prove because they are dealing with a metaphysical nature. Anyway, it is a fascinating subject!

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      2. Thank you Christine. I think that the Gnostics are heretical under any system. It was a religion with a profoundly pessimistic foundation, the world is illusory and evil, created by a blind, idiot devil masquerading as God. The second part is up now and I hope you find the rest of the series intriguing.

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  3. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Gnostic story.
    Seems that early experiences in the womb influence much of a person’s longings and beliefs.

    In this world change is the only constant – so wonderful, and so scary.
    I’d love you (time permitting) to review a book I co-edited – a prism of reflections about a controversial Sufi teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan, who died in 1990. It’s called ‘Heart of a Sufi,’ and is online as e-book with Troubador, Amazon, etc … though I have a few hard copies left and could send you one.

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    1. Such a comparison is truly flattering as I love Bataille (I did a five part series on Documents recently) and I love la part maudite, though I am never sure I have fully grasped Bataille. If I could reach such heady heights (or, as Bataille would prefer, such profound depths) I would a very happy camper.

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  4. These ideas of ‘wokeness’ and ‘red/blue pill’ are poor substitutes to the theories of Marx about ideology presenting social reality upside down, or about commodity fetishism that makes us attribute intrinsic qualities to objects, which result in fact from social and economic relations.
    The ‘left’ and ‘right’, the ‘conservatives’, ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’, despite their apparent antinomy, are in fact on the same capitalist boat, they all agree on preserving the actual social organisation of capital exploiting wage labour; they differ only on the means for this end.
    Both models of ‘wokeness’ and ‘red/blue pill’ rely on a purely individual transformation. This follows the bourgeois model of a society made by gathering ‘free individuals’. At the beginning of the 19th century, the utopian socialist Charles Fourier laid down the principle that individual action can only bring bad results, good can result only from group action.
    I am not impressed by such notions of intellectual ‘awakening’ of an individual. I prefer the metaphor of the locust, which can evolve, according to population density, from its solitary phase to its gregarious phase, a change not only in behaviour, but also in appearance; then it can also evolve back to its solitary phase. Or the axolotl, which usually reproduces in its larval stage, but under some hormonal conditions can undergo its metamorphosis.

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    1. Thank you for your detailed comment that contains much food for thought. I have always had a great fondness for Fourier (as did Andre Breton) whose theories were sound although sometimes touchingly bizarre. I do think that later Marxists/New Left theorists could show signs of latter day Gnostic thinking, but I will touch upon that later. As for my final conclusions on wokeness/red-pilled i want to avoid disclosing them for the time being as the series has a long way to go yet (the more I think about the longer it gets, I keep on adding possible sections).

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