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From: "Alice Turner" <akt@attglobal.net>
Subject: (urth) Gnosticism (Pullman; heavy spoilers)
Date: Sat, 5 May 2001 10:17:59 

Going back a bit to the Gnostic discussion:

From Wombat (responding to John Bishop):
> Good summary, with one thing omitted: That every person contains
> himself (or herself) the spark of the divine breath. The point of "the
> knowledge" and the self-abnegation is to allow that spark to rejoin
> greater God outside the created world. Direct contact with the divine
> both possible and difficult.

In Pullman, there is the question of Dust. Interestingly, responses to
Dust are mixed--is it good or evil? All we know at first is that is it
is attracted to sexually mature humans, not to children. And that this
is also true of the soul-vampires, the Specters of Cittagazza, who are
certainly evil (and scary, Bear). In Manichaeean Gnoticism, this is
Light, if good. Otherwise it would be Dark Matter (matter being bad and
identified with Satan or Ahriman). Dust is certainly matter for this is
a scientific world (the Dr. Malone part of it, anyway) and we know more
about matter than the Gnostics or orthodox Early Christians (who were
also inclined to think of matter as evil) did. Pullman, like Mani, has
pulled together elements from a number of religions. I *wish* he had
stayed on track; it's such a good and ambitious idea.

Pullman got lost, I think, in the sheer cumbersomeness of his schema and
its (their?) relation to Gnosticicm. It might have been easier to posit
Lyra as Sophia instead of Eve--Sophia, too, makes a big mistake which
leads to the formation of the world as it is instead of what it should
be (we wish). By separating this Eve from her Adam, yes, you certainly
avoid temptation: none of the Edenic boinking John Bishop evoked so
gladsomely. But Sophia conceived the abortive Demiurge on her own!
Besides, the original schema, both Gnostic and Christian, try to account
for the wicked ways of human beings, not only what seem the injustices
of heaven, and Pullman, in harrowing Hades and in squelching Specters,
doesn’t cope with that. Though I suppose if you equate Dust with
goodness, and you’ve fixed things so that there will be a good deal more
of it, you have performed a redemption.

And of course Metratron is kaput, though it seems as though that might
have happened anyway, kidz or no kidz.

Crowley coped with Sophia a bit more easily (only a bit, because I'm not
sure anyone reading the book without a pony could figure it out) by
equating Sam with Sophia only during the "passage time." The grown Sam
of the fourth book will no longer be Sophia in any way, nor, I predict,
will she have any notion that she ever was. And Crowley was only
borrowing from Gnosticism, not trying to set a scheme.

Sorry, this is all a bit rambly.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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