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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 11:12:29 -0500

Adam Stephanides said:
Perhaps I'm being dense, and it's been several years since I last read
TBOTLS; but I don't see any particular connection between the Long Sun books
and Gnosticism, either positive and negative...But, as I say, perhaps I'm
just missing

Well, like the "New Age", Gnoticism adopted so many elements from so many
places and ideas that it's difficult to say in anything theological without
it suggesting Gnostic influence. Still, there is this quote from the
Catholic Encyclopedia which seems to be a source to which Wolfe frequently

"Although the origins of Gnosticism are still largely enveloped in
obscurity, so much light has been shed on the problem by the combined
labours of many scholars that it is possible to give the following tentative
solution: Although Gnosticism may at first sight appear a mere thoughtless
syncretism of well nigh all religious systems in antiquity, it has in
reality one deep root-principle, which assimilated in every soil what is
needed for its life and growth; this principle is philosophical and
religious pessimism. The Gnostics, it is true, borrowed their terminology
almost entirely from existing religions, but they only used it to illustrate
their great idea of the essential evil of this present existence and the
duty to escape it by the help of magic spells and a superhuman Saviour.
Whatever they borrowed, this pessimism they did not borrow -- not from Greek
thought, which was a joyous acknowledgment of and homage to the beautiful
and noble in this world, with a studied disregard of the element of sorrow;
not from Egyptian thought, which did not allow its elaborate speculations on
retribution and judgment in the netherworld to cast a gloom on this present
existence, but considered the universe created or evolved under the
presiding wisdom of Thoth; not from Iranian thought, which held to the
absolute supremacy of Ahura Mazda and only allowed Ahriman a subordinate
share in the creation, or rather counter-creation, of the world; not from
Indian Brahminic thought, which was Pantheism pure and simple, or God
dwelling in, nay identified with, the universe, rather than the Universe
existing as the contradictory of God; not, lastly, from Semitic thought, for
Semitic religions were strangely reticent as to the fate of the soul after
death, and saw all practical wisdom in the worship of Baal, or Marduk, or
Assur, or Hadad, that they might live long on this earth. This utter
pessimism, bemoaning the existence of the whole universe as a corruption and
a calamity, with a feverish craving to be freed from the body of this death
and a mad hope that, if we only knew, we could by some mystic words undo the
cursed spell of this existence -- this is the foundation of all Gnostic
thought. It has the same parent-soil as Buddhism; but Buddhism is ethical,
it endeavours to obtain its end by the extinction of all desire; Gnosticism
is pseudo-intellectual, and trusts exclusively to magical knowledge.
Moreover, Gnosticism, placed in other historical surroundings, developed
from the first on other lines than Buddhism."

Well consider Silk's speech at on the airship after he attempted to kill
himself. Doesn't it suggest a Gnostic attitude? Doesn't Silk reject this
outlook in the end?

-- Crush


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