Sunday, June 12, 2005
The Plot Thickens
I spent much of the night pouring over the Flatlander's fastidiously scribbled notebooks, driven by an irresistible compulsion which, come morning, had wrecked havoc with my nerves and eyesight. I was hoping to find some clue to the Flatlander's recent disappearance conatined in his notes, but I'm not sure that my investigations have paid off. The deeper one gets into the religious speculations of Flatlander's journals, the stranger they become. For example:
The concern in the Hebrew Bible for the welfare of the orphan and the widow betrays a hidden Matriarchal power at work behind the war-like, Patriarchal mask of Yahweh. In the violent, late Bronze Age culture of the middle east, such duplicitousness was necessary for the survival of a religion championing the underdog, though by the time of the kingdom of David and Solomon the matriarchal force that sustained the Hebrews in their wanderings had largely been suppressed in favour of a rigid masculine ideal championed by the increasingly powerful priesthood...The recognition of divinity in its feminine aspect would not surface again until the Gnostic mythology of a divine Sophia, working covertly within a fallen creation to bring her children back to the light. The early emphasis within the Christian Church on the equality of the sexes, present in much Gnostic thinking as well, would follow the Hebrew pattern of being systematically suppressed by the rise of an institutionalized clergy.
The Gnostic tradition is one of the primary receptacles of the dirty laundry of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The hidden backstory of Jahweh, the inconvenient truths that had to necessarily be suppressed in the process of giving durable form to a popular religious movement, the lost threads and hidden gems as well as the destructive rumours of the religious development of the west can be found in these discarded writings. As such, they comprise the Shadow of Christianity, in the Jungian sense. Attempts to renew the truths that have sustained the west in its spiritual development will thus necessarily lead one to the realm of these ostracized visionaries.
And even more strangely:
Walt Whitman was the last of the Gnostics.
The Flatlander, it seems, was also something of a dilettante Orientalist. He predicts, at one point, the merging of the two traditions of Buddhism and Christianity into a great "Global transcendence of death". He writes:
I agree with Jung's view that Christianity is a species of Oriental wisdom translated into language our comparatively crude western spiritual imaginations could understand. What was gained by our two thousand year postponement of entry to Nirvana was a greater emphasis on the rights and development of the individual and his or her subjective experience. We traded Oriental mysticism with it's ten thousand gurus for the single example of the crucified Christ, and thus generated the breathing space between man and God necessary for a slow and steady cultivation of humanistic values. But I detect in the rising fascination the western world is showing for the introverted disciplines of the East--as well in the sudden resurfacing of the lost yogic strands of our own Judeo-Christian heritage [here I am assuming he is referring to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library]--a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional doctrines as they have been transmitted down to us. The time is coming when the terrible angels barring our re-admittance to the Garden will sheath their flaming swords, and the way will be clear to the Tree of Life, where our eyes will opened to the auspices of eternity itself, now plainly manifest in the fleeting world of nature and its wonders--as it is know by the very gods!
He was a strange bird, that Flatlander. Full of contradictions, he seems to have examined problems from many angles, and believed in all the various sides of a story, even if they ulitmately cancelled each other out. Perhaps truth, in the end, is whatever doesn't disappear during the long, dark night.