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A Question From The New Guy

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  • i_eat_pi_at_314
    Can gnosis ever be exclusively private? By this I mean to ask whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community s help. I ll tell you why I ask.
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 3, 2006
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      Can gnosis ever be exclusively private? By this I mean to ask
      whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community's help.
      I'll tell you why I ask. Postmodern culture has nurtured a cult of
      the subjective. I suspect this is so because the subjective has
      become problematical. Our interior selves are constantly being mined.
      Businesses now know what we want even before we do. To that end, our
      subliminal reactions are charted so marketing gurus can predict which
      packaging we'll find more attractive.
      In the perennial battle between coke and pepsi, we find our
      visceral reactions embossed right on the label. I'm usually unable to
      articulate what's churning inside my gut; yet, any smart billboard
      can and does so better than me. If this is true, then pretty much
      everything inside of us is tagged with it's own market value. We've
      become so exteriorized that personal experiences are a joke.
      In order to salvage what historically has been our subjective
      and private selves, postmodernism gives us permission to experience
      the "divine" without justifying anything. Yet, even though ancient
      gnostics were open to charismatic and original experiences, those
      experiences were expressed in familiar terms. The gnostics spoke in
      the language of well established cosmologies. The most ad hoc
      insights were still subject to the logic of those cosmologies.
      It might be argued that modern gnostics do the same thing. The
      problem is that the ancient cosmologies don't have currency, anymore.
      The universe is no longer some anthropomorphic projection. Consider
      the narrative from the gnostic text "Thunder Perfect Mind." The
      hubris of Wisdom and her subsequently deformed progeny just don't
      resonate. If gnosticism is simply a way to validate our personal and
      private selves, then in what sense can we claim kinship with the
      ancient gnostics? For them, gnosis was a release from an interiority
      which was already there, not a means to create that interiority.
      As I see it, we must hollow out the languages of our mundane
      communities and fill them with new meanings as the ancient gnostics
      did with their creation myths. In order to become a personal
      expression, gnosis must first spring from a communal matrix. The
      irony is that the subjective derives from it's community. Once the
      subjective is created, then and only then can the light trapped
      within us be released.
    • pmcvflag
      Hey, I_eat_pi, welcome to the group. You raise some interesting points and questions. ... whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community s
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 5, 2006
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        Hey, I_eat_pi, welcome to the group. You raise some interesting
        points and questions.

        >>>Can gnosis ever be exclusively private? By this I mean to ask
        whether we can achieve gnosis on our own without a community's
        help.<<<

        It is very good you made your intent more clear, because to me the
        first question and the second could be seen as completely different
        things. In fact, the absense of physical community may not
        imply "private" in the least if the conclusions are shared with a
        wider community. Since you used the word "exclusively" I would have
        thought you meant on all levels rather than simply the physical...
        had it not been for your qualification of intent.

        However, one thing you did not qualify or explain is your meaning of
        the word "Gnosis" itself. In this forum we do try to stick to the
        historical usages, so I am going to have work from that angle.

        >>>I'll tell you why I ask. Postmodern culture has nurtured a cult of
        the subjective. I suspect this is so because the subjective has
        become problematical. Our interior selves are constantly being
        mined.<<<

        Postmodern culture has very little to do with Gnosis. In my view it
        was a big mistake on the part of some philosophers to
        equate "Gnosis" of the ancients with their own philosophies. This is
        true of the Existentialists, and I would say even more true of
        anyone who wishes to do the same with postmodernism. However, I
        think we do have to draw a line between Philosophical Postmodernism
        and Popular Postmodernism before your question can have meaning. You
        seem to be implying a greater interest in the latter, but I am
        trying to not assume that before I say anything further on that
        subject.

        >>>We've become so exteriorized that personal experiences are a joke.
        In order to salvage what historically has been our subjective
        and private selves, postmodernism gives us permission to experience
        the "divine" without justifying anything.<<<<

        The Gnostic texts deal with the subject from almost the opposite
        perspective. It is the personal and the subjective that is exterior
        (or more accurately, not completely exterior OR interior). For
        instance, reading the first part of "Gospel of Truth" we
        see "ignorance" categorized as a sort of subjectivity that melts
        away with Gnosis. Same with the Tripartite Tractate and the Gospel
        of Philip where the subjective observations of language are seen as
        problems with the fallen state, where an objective realization of
        underlying meaning is seen as part of Gnosis itself.

        In fact, I think it would be fair to say that the Gnostics accepted
        subjective methods for attainment, but equated Gnosis itself as a
        move toward objectivity. Again and again the texts talk about
        absolutes that are beyond subjectivity, and they equate this
        recognition with aspects of "Gnosis". It could amost be stated that
        popular postmodernism ("New Age" thinking) is nearly opposite to
        that of Gnosticism.

        >>>Yet, even though ancient gnostics were open to charismatic and
        original experiences, those experiences were expressed in familiar
        terms. The gnostics spoke in the language of well established
        cosmologies. The most ad hoc insights were still subject to the
        logic of those cosmologies.<<<

        I was not sure if you meant "ad hoc" in the popular or the
        traditional way, but it almost doesn't matter. I take you to mean
        that the Gnostics were actually very specific in the linguistic
        usage, and thier belief about the function and meaning of
        experience, in which case I think there is no question that you are
        correct.

        >>>It might be argued that modern gnostics do the same thing.<<<

        This forum uses the term "Gnostics" only in the historical
        meaning... which means we have to question the usage of the
        term "modern Gnostics". This does not mean that we question whether
        modern people can find Gnosis, or if they can find the meaning and
        method of ancient Gnostic orders... it only means that we don't
        extend the category beyond the more technical meaning.

        >>>The problem is that the ancient cosmologies don't have currency,
        anymore.<<<

        This is a question that was recenly raised (by me) in another
        conversation. Before you can even deal with whether the ancient
        cosmology has currency you have to deal with whether you think it
        was literal or not. In fact, you have to deal with a whole host of
        hermeneutic methodologies that you simply have not.

        >>>The universe is no longer some anthropomorphic projection.
        Consider the narrative from the gnostic text "Thunder Perfect Mind."
        The hubris of Wisdom and her subsequently deformed progeny just don't
        resonate.<<<

        This actually brings up my prior point perfectly. For one, it is
        questionable whether Thunder is technically a "Gnostic" text, but
        more importantly there is the issue of just how much of this is a
        literary divice. One has to ask exactly how this text is being
        understood... is it an allegory? If it does not resonate is that
        because it isn't true? Or because the person does not yet understand
        it? (if the CAN understand it)

        >>>If gnosticism is simply a way to validate our personal and
        private selves, then in what sense can we claim kinship with the
        ancient gnostics? For them, gnosis was a release from an interiority
        which was already there, not a means to create that interiority.<<<

        While I think the terms may be more complex, if this is what you are
        driving at I think I agree. I am partially bringing up these
        problems to point out that in this forum your point needs to bring
        up actual examples and contrasts.

        >>>>As I see it, we must hollow out the languages of our mundane
        communities and fill them with new meanings as the ancient gnostics
        did with their creation myths. In order to become a personal
        expression, gnosis must first spring from a communal matrix. The
        irony is that the subjective derives from it's community. Once the
        subjective is created, then and only then can the light trapped
        within us be released.<<<<

        I think that is a really great idea for a topic. In fact, I would
        like to ask anyone here to attempt it. We have already talked about
        how the Gnostics had a pretty specific "trade lingo" that helps to
        identify them as a group, BUT!!!! what modern words would you all
        use if you thought you were going to try to communicate the beliefs
        to a modern mind?

        Those of you who voted for modernization in the recent poll should
        especially answer this one.

        PMCV
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