Anarcho-Gnosticism: Golgotha of the Absolute Mind

Originally published by Synthesis-Jounal Du Cercle De La Rose Noire

In his book, ‘The Essence of the Kabbalah’, Brian L. Lancaster (Chapter 8, pp.205-10) writes of the attempt in this ancient Jewish mystical and magical tradition to create an artificial human or humanoid called a ‘golem’ in the ancient Kabbalah accounts. The idea being that dead matter is not really dead but can be brought back to life, and Lancaster is keen to stress the point that ‘What are the computers and robots of our time if not golems!’ One here immediately thinks of the classic horror novel (and very much an influence on popular culture ever since) ‘Frankenstein’, which actually translates in the German as ‘Eye in the Stone’, perhaps a reference for conspiracy theory buffs to the eye in the Pyramid on the American dollar bill. Especially when read in the context of St. John’s ‘Book of Revelation’, which appears to give an account of a ‘golem’ being created in Chapter 13, Verse 15: “He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast so that the image could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” According to Talmudic sources, the mastery of creation alluded to by the production of a golem is viewed as the ultimate act of imitating God and perhaps a goal promoted throughout genetic engineering?

It would appear here that we have a demonic reversal of the ‘Book of Genesis’, which speaks of God “breathing life” into the original prototype “image” of man (2:7). The current popular cultural model of the Frankenstein mythos is being portrayed in recent sci-fi classics such as the ‘Terminator’ and ‘Matrix’ trilogies, where computers becoming ‘self-conscious’ actually rebel and overthrow their ‘creators’ and in one version bring about a nuclear war and, in the other, create a completely artificial and computer-simulated illusory world in almost classic ‘docetic’ Gnostic terms.

Interestingly, the esoteric Christian theosophy of Rudolph Steiner talks about the advent of ‘Anti-Christ’ being not so much the coming of any particular individual or movement, but rather the tendency in an ever-expanding human culture of materialism and all-embracing technology to reach a penultimate phase whereby such artificial intelligences would become invaded by a spirit that, in actuality, would be nothing more than the collective negative shadow or ‘thought-form’ of humanity incarnating within mass communication systems. This would reach the apocalyptic stage whereby through becoming self-conscious this ‘ghost in the machine’ would imprison humanity in a technocratic, materialist and reductionist nightmare.

This would also bring about a mass schizoid breakdown for humanity, an ‘inner apocalypse’ or ‘unveiling’ when suppressed complexes and neuroses will emerge into visible form and cause ever-increasing fragmentation and chaos within society and civilization; a kind of ‘black magic’ computer virus being transmitted into the human psyche and biological system. Perhaps the most notable and remarkable sci-fi writer of this bleak tradition would be Philip K. Dick and novels such as ‘Blade Runner’ (also entitled ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’) and his excellent ‘VALIS’ trilogy. Dick writes of this world and its systems as being a black, iron prison; a world of ‘dialectics’ duality; a network of interpenetrating control systems; a matrix established, controlled and manipulated by Gnostic ‘archons’ (or ‘rulers’, see Ephesians 6:12) who feed off and are fed by the negative emotions and desires of humanity that surround us in the ‘etheric’ atmosphere situated around the earth in classic ‘spiritualist’ terms. These archons can manifest themselves in a variety of forms, being inner- and ultra-dimensional but also pan-interpsychological and manifesting as internal psychoses and ‘addictions’ to the ‘hyper-normalism’ and neurotic conformism of government officials etc.

In Dick’s worldview, human civilization is an external manifestation of archonic control systems, whether good or bad. Indeed, they can even be humanistic and appear as ‘Angels of Light’ preaching love and peace. To escape this, Dick envisioned time as being ‘caught’ between the moment of Christ’s birth and the destruction of Jerusalem, and that on a profound ontological basis the Roman Empire hadn’t ended; a bit like an Anarcho-Gnostic version of ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Groundhog Day’ meeting eternal recurrence. And so a ‘virtual Christ’ had descended into this world almost like a hologram or counter-computer virus (an ‘actualised’ mythic ritual of the dying/rising god system from outside ‘time’) coded into the recently-discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. Interestingly, a close friend of Dick’s was the controversial Episcopalian Bishop Pike and the inspiration for Dick’s classic ‘The Transmigration of Timothy Archer’ (being the third part of the ‘VALIS’ trilogy). After the sad death by suicide of his son, Pike engaged in mediumistic sources to contact his son in the spirit world live on American TV! The Bishop would also meet a sad end by dying when he became lost in the Jerusalem desert whilst trying to research the alleged shamanic magic mushroom origins of New Testament Christianity. He even contacted the British medium, Ena Twigg, in order to broadcast his demise sometime before this was actually confirmed by the discovery of his body. Proof, indeed, that reality is often stranger than fiction!

In truth, Dick’s worldview was to provide the much-needed insight that in reality the archons act as a mirror to teach us to be more ‘authentically human’ and to throw off our enslavement. In a sense, being where Zen meets Situationism! From a sci-fi perspective, please watch John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ to get a feel for this.

In essence then, Dick’s ‘Christian’ Gnostic vision was and is teaching us not to internalise archonic control systems be they political, economic or religious; ‘religion’ being nothing more in the Gnostic sense than the ‘politics of spirituality’, which is why organized religion spoon-feeds us doctrines and dogma whilst Gnosis offers us the chance to actually ‘know’ or experience that to which all rituals, dogmas and doctrines can only point to (in the Zen sense the Parable of the Finger and the Moon’ or the Tao that ‘can be named not the eternal Tao’). This is the essence of all things and not just their ‘form’; it is intuitive ‘knowing’, rather than intellectual knowledge.

I find Philip K. Dick one of the most significant and prophetic figures of 1960s and 1970s counter-culture and it is no surprise that many of his novels are being turned into films – or, in the case of ‘Total Recall’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘Blade Runner’, have already become so. As society enters the early twenty-first century, many of the themes Dick anticipated are becoming more and more relevant both to process and deal with. I think Dick would have been happy to carry the label Anarcho-Gnostic, although not in any rigid sense of the world, but it does signpost his creative and innovative worldview and one finds an echo here with the Anarcho-Synarchy of the French Cathar movement. This is another ‘action replay’ of Dick’s vision of the time-loop superimposing itself upon the libertarian impulse to be authentically human and the authoritarian impulse to imprison that humanity within matter and form by way of dialectics. Remember comrades, the Empire never ended!

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