Wednesday’s Child: A Gnostic Mixology (FREE)

It must be the time of year.  Friends and acquaintances keep sending me novels, asking for my opinion as if I were a cocktail taster in a bar with a pernickety and occasionally abusive clientele – a gay one, presumably.  Last week I nearly died after taking a swig of mendacious absurdity.  This week’s concoction is very different.

The brew that has been set before me has as its base a Gnostic cosmogony.  And, since its style is tongue-in-cheek urbane, colloquial and hip, there is in the mix an equal amount of Hollywood brooding on the meaninglessness of life, as exemplified by the 1998 film classic The Truman Show.  I wonder if anybody remembers it now, but this was a nicely done popular adaptation of The Hypostasis of the Archons, a Nag Hammadi text which twenty years earlier, if I may boast, I had read in the language of the original.  It has since been translated into English as The Reality of the Rulers by my beloved professor of Coptic at university, Bentley Layton.

To measure progress in the public’s attitude to the Gnostic idea of the cosmos since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi manuscript hoard, when it was of narrow interest to a handful of religious scholars like Professor Layton, it is enough to type “archons” into Google search.  There, among 805,000 results, one finds teasers like “Archons: Exorcising Hidden Controllers,” “The Gnostic Theory of Alien Intrusion,”  “Exposing the Archons,” “How the Archons Destroy Your Life,” and so on, suggesting that the once arcane subject has all but caught up in relevance with the Illuminati, the Elders of Zion, and the Trilateral Commission.

The reason for this is simple.  Gnosticism is the world’s first universal conspiracy theory.  Like all conspiracy theories, it contains an element of truth – a divine spark, as a Gnostic would say.  And people are drawn to the truth, even as their souls are drawn to the light of the cosmic fullness – which they glimpse through the pinholes, vulgarly known as stars, in the otherwise hermetically sealed dome of the reality show.

All this is a rather longwinded way of introducing the novel I’ve just read, Empire V, by the Russian author Viktor Pelevin.   “V” stands for “Vampire,” but this is not a book to shrug off, to ridicule, or to bin.  Man, runs its argument, was created by an elite of bloodsucking vampires, just the way the milk cow has been bred into existence by man.  Millennia of evolution, however, have enabled the vampires to sublimate their thirst and to revise their nutritional requirements, so instead of blood they now feed on the concentrated energy of human illusions, vulgarly known as money.  They still practice the bite, though nowadays it is more a means of social identification and recognition than a meal ticket.

Pelevin is cynical in the extreme, just as a neo-Gnostic should be, yet he is also clever and often funny.  “If you don’t want to play the clown for whores,” says an elderly vampire to the young acolyte by way of admonition, “you’ll end up playing the whore for clowns.”  There is, perhaps, too much of The Truman Show in the novel for my taste, as well as too many Gothic interiors, supernatural transformations, and bat biographies, but I think this one neo-Gnostic aphorism of Pelevin’s more than justifies the few hours spent in his company under the overturned colander vulgarly known as heaven.

Andrei Navrozov

Andrei Navrozov

2 Responses

  1. Robert Reavis says:

    Mr. Navrozov,
    When it comes to human behavior the old categories of ” the world, the flesh and the devil” or our more contemporary examples of alchemy of the world explained by BF Skinner: Operant Conditioning, Freud, Peeling the Onion and Psychoanalysis, then back to the flesh in a Hegelian swing of the dialectic towards the flesh of “hard sciences” chemistry, molecular biology, the DNA of genetic traits effecting evolutionary anthropology leading to “chemical imbalances.” and now the revised occult figures of Werewolves and Vampires.
    Perhaps soon our children’s children will discover a need for a new temple, like the temples of old, to store all of the gods including the unknown God mentioned by St Paul.

  2. Robert Reavis says:

    From yesterday’s AP press report a group of Coptic kids gunned down on their way to a field trip to local monastery.

    “Gunmen have attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others, state media report.

    The bus was travelling to the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, 135km (85 miles) south of Cairo, from Minya province when it came under fire.
    Two suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services at churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta on 9 April left 46 people dead.

    Another suicide bombing at a church in the capital in December killed 29 people, while a Christian community was forced to flee the town of el-Arish in the northern Sinai peninsula after a series of gun attacks in February.

    The Copts killed on Friday had been travelling to St Samuel’s monastery to pray.
    Between eight and 10 gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked the convoy, officials cited witnesses as saying. The gunmen then fired at the vehicles with automatic weapons before fleeing.

    Minya Province Bishop Makarios said many of the victims were shot at point blank range,

    He said that children had been on the bus and were among the dead, adding that a pick-up truck in the convoy carrying workmen at the monastery was also targeted.”

    The Founder of this monastery, Samuel The Confessor, was never a martyr but he was often beaten up and I believe had one of his eyes gouged out or knocked out for refusing to grovel. A thousand years later his sympathisers remain but still wanted, Dead or Alive. .