In Gnosticism, the Demiurge was the creator of the material world. In opposition to the God, the Demiurge is evil and malevolent, creating a world that hides the true God by entrapping souls in illusion and materiality. The world picture of the modern world is the result of believing the Demiurge.
Hermetic practice must begin with a process of unknowing. That is, one’s habitually condition modes of thought must be deconditionalized. Everything assumed or taken for granted must be rethought.
Ideas, worldviews, or “memes” enter into the thinking of the world, or noosphere, in three stages:
- The first tier of intelligence creates a new system of thought. Such thinkers may be wickedly intelligent. They latch onto a fixed idea and then develop an architectonic system based on it.
- The second tier absorbs and propagates the ideas from the first tier. These thinkers are in a position to understand the ideas of the first tier. Since ideas are fundamental to them, they are eager to seek out new ideas. Motivated by the need for novelty, intellectual gluttony, and a revolutionary spirit, they draw out the conclusions and diffuse the ideas through publications and educational institutions.
- The third tier then accepts the ideas uncritically. They have sufficient intelligence to learn the ideas yet lack the depth of insight to reach the roots of the worldview. For this group, certain ideas act as “status markers”, that is, they are used to separate the “educated” from the masses. Articulateness is more important than depth of understanding.
Julius Evola calls the process of unknowing the Trial by Fire. When done properly, it can seem to lead to the brink of insanity although there are sufficient buffers to avoid going over the edge for a healthy person. I can describe that process at another time, but the first step is to understand the sources of one’s thinking.
When I was a young man, I managed to forge a world view founded on Physics, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx. This would provide a complete explanation of the World: it accounts for matter, life, mind, and society. Around the ages of 10 and 11, I was sent to weekly science classes at the Boston Museum of Science. While waiting to be picked up, I spent time at the library, reading books mostly on astronomy and mathematics, with a particular attachment to the four volume World of Mathematics by James Newman. At home, I had a small library of books on astronomy, physics, space travel, rocketry, and dinosaurs, so I was well-disposed to make science the bedrock of my worldview.
Later, at University, I was exposed to the ideas of the New Left. I spent many hours reading turgid Marxian analyses of current events. The more interesting books combined Marx and Freud: those by Wilhelm Reich, Eros and Civilization by Herbert Marcuse, and Life Against Death by Norman O Brown. That completed the sequence as I read more deeply in psychoanalysis: Freud, Jung, Adler, Fromm, Horney, and so on.
Life on Earth is motivated by Fear, Sex, and Hunger, which maintain us in bondage. This constructed worldview promised liberation from all that. Unlike Buddhism which teaches the desire leads to suffering, the Modern view is the repression of desire leads to suffering. Repression comes from the superego on the individual level and from the patriarchal hierarchy on the social level. So all sexual expression is healthy. I went from high school where, in guidance classes, the issue of premarital sex was still unresolved, to university where the Harrad Experiment was a popular book. Oddly enough, the free sex of the Experiment has morphed into contractual sex on campuses where any breach of contract can lead to a Kafkaesque inquisition. Nevertheless, certain practices that were considered immoral, unhealthy, and illegal are now generally accepted as normal. The surprise is the persistence of just a few sexual taboos, but that may yet change. We are left now with greater incidences of incurable venereal diseases, date rape, illegitimacy, abortion, pornography, and so on. Whether all this is a sign of “liberation” or an indication of a general malaise is an exercise left to the reader.
In the social realm, Marxism was supposed to lead to abundance, thus solving the problem of hunger (in the larger sense). Since consciousness was formed by the material conditions of life, man’s mind would be freed for higher pursuits. The worker would return home for discussions in the High Culture of art, philosophy, and so on. That never happened. Nowadays, the worker returns home, gets stoned or drunk, and then watches mindless TV shows, sports spectacles, and Internet porn.
The third motivation, Fear, has been intractable because the problem of death has not been solved. Earnest Becker described this in psychoanalytic terms in the Denial of Death. The Existentialists brought doubt into the project of liberation via sexual restraint and material abundance. The Transhumanists and Cosmists believe that this problem, too, will be solved. That post is scheduled for the near future.
The Secret Mysterian
Oddly enough, I also had a Mysterian thread in my thinking life that was nourished at the same time. It can actually be traced back to childhood, but that is another discussion. The brother of a friend used to give out copies of The Book, by Alan Watts, which I read. It was unlike anything I had been familiar with, and his other books were my first introduction to the name Rene Guenon. Somehow I balanced this type of neo-Vedanta with an interest in science and psychoanalysis. I believe that my preference for spicy and picante foods prevented me from falling completely into Cogni-ism.
Nevertheless, at the third tier, the four pillars of science, evolution, psychology, and liberalism/socialism, perhaps tinged with some New Age spirituality, even Cogni-ism, supports the worldview of the “educated” person today. Thom Hartmann, whose talk show inscrutably airs nightly on Russia Today TV, is one of the more self-aware exemplars of that.
Part 2 will feature the tactics of the Demiurge