This is a bizarre experiment. I’ve transcribed some old notes taken while reading an esoteric text of some minor fame: Tobias Churton’s The Gnostics. Reading the book led to an odd revelation of sorts, also included. I’m not sure what to make of it all…I leave that to you:
Initial description of the burial of non-canonical, unorthodox texts in 367 AD.
Valentinus; greatest of the Roman Gnostics. Ca. 160 AD. Possible author of Gospel of Truth. (??)
Apuleius; Platonic. Distinction between the sensible and the intelligible (the nous). An intuitive faculty: A higher reason.
Description of “intellect”. (35)
Hans Jonas; Gnostic scholar…worked with Heidegger.
Gnosticism; split between man and nature. “Otherness” of man. “Proto”-humanism (?). Concept of alienation.
Immanentist nature of modern world. Determinism (science; cause & effect). Value-free origin (Evolution) — starts one on a path to nihilism… (??)
Contrast between Gnosis and the mystery religions (naturalistic). Is Hermetic an intermediary — “naturo-spiritualism”? Wings on feet and head.
Hermetic; Hermes (earth & heaven). Inspiration to the philosophers. (Thoth) God of writing and magic. Knowledge. Quick wit.
Valentinus; Born ca. 110 AD. Poet, philosopher, theologian.
Origin of “the world.” (54-5) Manichean duality.
Catharism; link to Gnosis.
Similarity in principles of Catharism & Gnosticism; Duality, evil/corrupted world, criticism of orthodoxy.
Montségur; final stronghold of the Cathars.
Renaissance Hermeticism; Platonism (neo-), Spiritual humanism, microcosm-macrocosm, Hermes — mediator between spirit & matter, Seeking the “one”; classical revival (magic).
Discussion of Hermes in St. Augustine and Lactantius.
Ficino; translation of the Corpus Hermeticum (Pymander) for Medici (1464).
From Cosimo to Lorenzo. Pico Della Mirandola (1463-94). Dignity of Man. 900 Theses. 13 Found heretical. Responds with apologia. Oratio; Oration on the Dignity of Man. “Hermetic man…” (111).
Man’s potential. (113)
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). Hermeticism. Living. “Anima Mundi.” “Thus everything…” (125). A divine and living universe.
Deism; “mechanistic” God.
Hermetic/Gnostic; little known to Newton. (?)
The warning of Frankenstein.
William Blake; criticism of mediocrity and materialism. “Mind-forged manacles.” Criticism of industrial mechanism. Reason & reductionism.
Connection between Rosicrucians and science. Division regarding the future purposes of science ca. 1650.
Saint-Martin, Charcot, Constant, Steiner, Jung…
Hylic, psychic, pneumatic. Body, mind, spirit.
We moderns understand knowledge to be knowledge only of an objective form. This is to say that real meaning and value are ascribed only to objective knowledge. Experience, perception and feeling are sources of knowledge, but not forms of knowledge itself. People, places and ideas only become knowable through a mediated “lens” of imagery and language. If people aren’t Africans, Canadians, miners, old, impoverished, short, tired, rich, starving, blind, religious, or even non-descript, who are they? If you’re not somewhere, where are you? Nowhere? Are not the powerful and constant experiences of everyone everywhere a kind of knowledge? What is the meaning? How does one understand?