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From: "tom" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 17:40:23 GMT

Adam Stephanides wrote:
> I don't see any particular connection between the Long Sun books
> and Gnosticism, either positive and negative.

Silk holds the "primary" Gnostic belief - that the god(s) of this
world/Whorl are false, and that the true God exists outside in
some sense.

> I don't see anything that Pas has in common with the Demiurge
> that he doesn't have in common with pagan "high gods" such as
> Zeus, who are the obvious models.

Zeus, in the standard Greek model, was exactly who he claimed to
be - father of the gods and head honcho.  The Demiurge is exactly
_not_ what he claims to be - the one God.  Pas/Typhon is in that
boat.  He's set himself up as a god, but really isn't.

> Still less do I see how the Long Sun books are a criticism
> of Gnosticism

I think he's sort of re-purposing Gnosticism.

The danger Gnosticism poses to Christianity (and Catholicism
in particular) is that it pulls the same trick on Christianity
that Christianity pulled on the pagans.  To be short, the
Christian God was set up as the God of the pagan Gods; in the
same manner the Gnostic God was set up as the superior of the
Christian God.  This is the "old" sense of Gnosticism, and
is obviously unacceptable to Wolfe.

In the Long Sun Whorl, however, being Gnostic is the only
correct way to be.  As opposed to the "real" world, the Whorl
really is run by a mad god, and the only escape is through belief
in a god "outside".

In the book, then, Wolfe draws a parallel between the current
situation in the "real" world and the Whorl - trapped in a
decaying hulk, people worship exactly what got them into this mess
in the first place: technology.  Wolfe wants the reader to
recognize how tech is made a god, and to become a (new, improved)
Gnostic by finding the real God outside of the world.  This
is the "new" sense of being a Gnostic.

In this new sense (not the bad old sense) being a Gnostic is ok.
Wolfe has simultaneously criticized Gnosticism (after all, when
Silk meets the Creator, that's it - he's found the Source) while
reinvigorating it (by using it as a model for how we should relate
to the modern world).

James Wynn quotes the Catholic Encyclopedia:
>"Gnosticism ... 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...
> 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."

Gnostics (as far as we know) weren't all that pessimistic, really.
Compared to doctrines like Sheol and predestination, Gnostics
were positively euphoric.

It's best to read this entire entry as an outdated (almost 100
year old) polemic by an ancient enemy of the Gnostics, rather
than a serious analysis.


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