Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mystical Horror

The title of this post comes from this article, where Mr. Samuels is discussing the literary merits of weird fiction, and why reducing it to social commentary or personal characterization has diminished the genre.

The title got me to thinking about Gnosticism, however.

The gnostic myth is a horrible story. The Demiurge is at worst evil, at best incompetent, and generally has it out for humanity. The Archons rule our lives with no regard to what we need, but are rather cosmic forces blindly going about their tasks with no regard for who is hurt or even how their tasks affect the rest of the cosmos. They care only for their spheres, and not the wider cosmos, and it's up to the incompetent or evil Demiurge to keep the whole thing running. It is the image of imperfection.

And in the world, we see this born out: Life must consume life in order to survive. Our time is limited and we fritter it away on things which do not matter. Even death may not be a release, as our material forms are recycled, so why not our psyches and souls? We are trapped, we don't know where we are, why we are here, what we are, or why we should care. What is in front of us is illusory and dissatisfying, and the answers to cosmic questions seem overwhelming and depressing.
Oh, we may find some joy, some fun, some love. All of these things are transitory, destined for entropy and decay, ultimately futile as we decompose and then do it all over again, perhaps as an animal, or as a disembodied spirit. We are in thrall to forces beyond our ability to control, comprehend, or even navigate.

That is not the whole story, though. We are exiles, we travelers lost in a strange land, and some of us remember, some of us wake up from the distractions of this materiality, and remember our divine origins. The Gnostic Story has hope built into it: In the form of gnosis, in the form of the Savior, in the form of the Mother Sophia. They give a star to steer by, dim and wavering as that star may be.

That hope, though, is almost as horror filled as the discussion of the problem. For our savior is an alien god, a being from a realm of perfection which we can dimly remember, but not grasp. We imagine perfection, celestial realms of light, but in those realms, what is left of this individual 'I' which writes the blog? When absorbed into perfection, will anything of 'me' remain? Not for nothing are we told not to look directly at the Divine, for it would blow us away with it's power and perfection.

This is why the weird fiction genre appeals to me. The problems are insoluble, and what solutions there are involve massive transformations of the narrator and the reader. Transformation is part of the gnostic business, and the transformation is never easy, nor sure.


Hilliard Smith said...

Why "power and perfection"? Chew on "nothing" for a few moments.

Hilliard Smith said...

Power and Perfection have become trite for me. Instead, I chew on "nothing"
not "something" for a while.