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When you make the two one,
Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate,
for all things are plain in the sight of heaven.
For nothing hidden will not become manifest,
and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered.
Logion 6, Gospel of Thomas, Lambdin translation
GNOSIS series - Christian WeaknessRips in clothing reflect rips in consciousness as the Feminine struggles for recognition in the Divine
It’s so easy to see ourselves as villains or as victims. We are both. With your feet on the ground, can you feel it rise up to meet you?
JUMP TO: PHILO=LOVE?
JUMP TO: THEORY - PhiloCineSophia
JUMP TO: THE FALL OF SOPHIA
Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh, Cinema Overdrive, MovieDiva, Carolina Theatre of Durham, Retro Film Series, AnimeMagic
In the latter half of December 2019 and January of 2020 I experienced an onslaught of dynamic and tumultuous events.
First was the final division between myself and my father.
I found ways to embrace a strand of light that twisted itself around to accommodate collapses in my spine. Accommodations made for the needs of others nearly destroyed me over and over again. Still alive, I sought ways to cope. Peace rather than punishment was my quarry. I grounded myself and stood tall, seeking the silence that only peace can bring.
A voice answered outside of my reverie as I reflected on my pangs of want and the road that did not open to meet them. “We cannot always have what we want.”
“Do you think I wanted to be silent for 1600 years? Do you think I wanted my name to be used to justify cruelty? You have what you need, so heal and help me.”
I thought maybe he would have left me for good. Our father, who arts a heaven, the builder of the world, a kingdom. A lowly daughter returned to be with her family. Our father.
God Told Me To had started 13 hours away.
I had not created myself, but I certainly had chosen my heresy over the comfort of tradition. Heresy that spoke to me of the ultimate freedom.
He couldn’t know just how dearly I’d desired to throw it all away to have a consort I wanted in this world.
To submit to the Father-power.
This was not meant to be.
Ah. Knowledge. Good and evil. Life.
Free, I finally had the tools to question the will and wisdom of the Father calmly, without pathos, with concerns about consciousness and care that pushed Our Father past his extant limits.
“Fuck you. Fuck You. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! GET THE FUCK OUT!”
Second, "nature took its course" with regard to both my understanding of God and my understanding of myself in relation to Father, God, and - well, Him.
I entered in into the thirteenth æon and found Pistis Sophia below the thirteenth æon all alone and no one of them with her.
And she sat in that region grieving and mourning, because she had not been admitted into the thirteenth æon, her higher region.
And she was moreover grieving because of the torments which Self-willed, who is one of the three triple-powers, had inflicted on her.
But this,--when I shall come to speak with you respecting their expansion, I will tell you the mystery, how this befell her. (Chapter 29)
|RISE OF SKYWALKER|
For my part, I loved it.
My ardor comes specifically from the continuation of the Rey/Ren dynamic established in the earlier Last Jedi. It's fair for the pharisees and scribes tasked with preserving the nostalgia of earlier Star Wars generations to object. For my part, the dynamic illustrated in extremes of the force, dark and light, can't help but tease my historical preference for impossible romances.
She must prove her worth. He has given up on meaning and goodness. Despite the connections between their minds, each seeks submission of the Other by way of a light vs dark compromise. She wants Ren/Ben to realize his latent Jedi potentials; He wants to destroy everything, except the tangible power that he could gain from her acquiescence.
It takes His end before He can see the Truth.
The core of the conflict light vs dark is redemptive and a hopeful fantasy for every woman who thought she was dealing with someone who hadn't fully resigned himself to the dark side.
Rise of Skywalker not playing by the rules of the Star Wars game. This is what I learned from my Star Wars nerd friends who deigned to give me their perspective, thorough as it was. For obsessives of the franchise, I don't recommend it based on their account.
I love everything. That's why I fall.
JUMP TO: THEORY - PhiloCineSophia
JUMP TO: PHILO=LOVE?
"When then this befell, Sophia became very greatly exhausted, and that lion-faced light-power set to work to take away from Sophia all her light-powers, and all the material powers of Self-willed surrounded Sophia at the same time and pressed her sore." (Chapter 31)
We should find it curious that, with the passage of time, the depiction becomes less and less sympathetic to a happy ending for our Sophia.
In Possessed, Puzzle of a Downfall Child, and Belladonna of Sadness, the feminine heroine, Sophia's representative, struggles through the trauma of divestment from what is good, heavenly, God, confronts the mistakes of her creation, and appeals to the audience's capacity for wisdom, compassion, and gnosis. Her investment in each case is how the realities or truths of the world have weighed on her, and charts her response to the unforgiving, static nature of sovereignty in the world in which she finds herself.
Whether the Authority is class and status, purity and the church, or power and sensuality, she pursues gnosis as a way of escaping the laws established to keep her "in her place" with mixed results.
Corrine Botz’s Bedside Manner screened as part of Duke’s Screen/Society programming on January 30th, 2020. Not only did this film feature a consortium of mirrors, two-way and beyond, but it touched on many themes relevant for this discussion of metaphysics (if not sex, but they may arguably be one and the same).
As a special bonus, subject of the film and current associate professor of neurology at Harvard’s medical school, Alice Flaherty, joined Corrine in attendance. They hosted a lively discussion following the screening. In reference to the acting of standardized patients, to paraphrase Dr. Flaherty, “just because something’s not real doesn’t mean it doesn’t point to something that is real.” It’s a wonderful surreal short and I hope it’s accessible somehow.
In any case, none of what is contained here is “real.”
I can say this with “authority” only because I’ve been to reality before. If only for brief moments at a time, but nonetheless quite real in a way that defies the skeptical and nullifies the nihilistic. There are things about reality that can only be seen in visions. Meaning can be contained in things that did happen; and in things that you perceived at one angle, but you couldn’t see them from another; and in things that only happened on the screen; and in you, and me, and all the starlets inbetween.
In the following prose, with the assistance of cinematic illustrations and significant theorists and scholars, I’ll be ferrying you down a river dense with controversy. Our objective is to ask the most fundamental questions of our present moment: how cinema and philosophy have led us into the temptation of sexual metaphysics. I hope I can help guide your psyche and pneuma together on the difficult path between unfamiliarity and familiarity, order and chaos, to our destination in wisdom’s territories. You can know.
This is my best attempt at the truth.
Different kinds of knowledge, different kinds of love
My first repentance
This might be a little dry for some.
Lots of philosophy struck me that way while I studied it. But I loved it. I loved, and still love, wisdom. I can't get enough of it. And there are so many who have sought and found wisdom, and like a puzzle slowly coming together contributed what they could to the topic. This idea that integrates knowledge, morality, being, purpose, and whatever extends beyond the boundaries of our bodies to a unified whole. Is philosophy still the love of Wisdom? What wisdom I have gleaned in my young life has often come from movies, with trauma as a kind of guide for what I sought. So I made enormous sacrifices, on occasion, to seek and find wisdom. I could have majored in something “useful.” Instead, I wanted to understand what it means to be a self, to be conscious. What meaning means. The “why” of everything. I wanted the truth. I am only interested in the truth.
In contrast to skeptics I believe there is something more than what can be measured and demonstrated empirically - at least, empirically on a reproducible basis. For instance, I can say I had the “empirical” (I would call it mystical) experience of visions and epiphanies. The latest was of my mom’s young face in light, smiling and laughing, over the ambulance that took her to the hospital when she had her first seizures. I was thirteen. In that moment, it had quite a different character as I looked into the black of her pupils and didn’t see her light there to meet me. But I can’t reproduce this experience, and I can’t go back in time to “verify” that whatever happened to my mom’s consciousness when it first left her body was this brilliant, light-filled vision. But I swear to Fucking Christ that I believe it was true. I didn’t invent it. It wasn’t something I was trying to see.
I want to believe, and that’s enough for me. But I also want to believe that there are those of you here, with me, right now, who yearn for something outside the chasm of skeptical delight of overcoming your intellectual inferiors, who haven’t fully resigned yourselves to settling for “nothing matters”. Nothing does matter. And everything does matter. And matter, like God, exists because people believe in it. It’s absurd to say god doesn’t exist. God is an idea that people believe in and act on. This alone is enough for god to exist – not on some external plane but in the very real experience of life lived in the ordinary and the mundane, because that is all we have ever experienced.
Or it is?
Have you not experienced the awe of losing yourself, together, with someone completely? Have you not been in the process of making work and felt yourself swept away by the spirit? Have you not experienced meaningful coincidences that thrilled you with an immaculate joy? Have you not tested the boundaries of your ego with psychoactive plans - our species’ birthright and possible doorway to the birth of consciousness itself? Have you never felt genuine, true, authentic peace, full of love? Have you not felt the pains of inadequacy wash away when you felt that moment of truth? If you have experienced any of these things, my friend, I believe you know. You know.
Beginning with Socrates, the Western philosophical tradition’s prime directive was first to ”know thyself”. How well we’ve accomplished this is not well understood. Most people don’t give 1200 shits for philosophy, and it’s not a part of how they live. But you know what? A hell of a lot of them watch movies. Fast forward. “Despite the success of modern rationalism in conquering epistemic scepticism, the knowledge that really matters to us - about the self, morality, or our relations with others - remains frustratingly uncertain.” (Sinnerbrink, 103)
“Seek knowledge within” would be fleshed out to such an extreme. We’ve figured out within. What’s all that space out there? Can we time travel? Meanwhile, asceticism in religion prevented necessary growth in the realm of soul-spirit relations. In our journey we lost sight of wisdom in favor of knowledge. This perversion of wisdom in our present day is the denigration of forms of knowledge that transcend logic and don’t follow scientific dogmas and methods. It’s the suppression and denigration of irreducible knowledge outside of what can be both demonstrated and reproduced. They claim to be saviors but they maintain the masochistic penchants of philosophy and press her sore.
“Despite the plethora of attempts to ‘define’ the medium, the ontology of the image, or the nature of film as art, cinema seems to resist any such attempts at conceptual definition.” (28) Rationalism has a reductionist problem when it comes to aesthetics, and film is its greatest aristarch. Films can’t help themselves but to present Sophia, who had been present on the stage, present in history, lost from prayer. She continually opposed orthodoxies that maintained static formulations of time and space. Matter, energy, no longer reality, just a taste of what was dangerous and irrational. Particle and wave? Get the fuck out. But film, as light, takes us to a place where She has always been home.
Philosophy wastes its time with struggles of dominance arguing for its primacy, advancing the subsumption of film into its grim, ivory-tower clutches. The love of wisdom has lost its way, and film is its messiah. Or do you believe that the orthodox are correct? "Is art, including film, reducible to the kind of explanatory theories provided by the best available science? Or does the art of film express forms of meaning that resist reduction to naturalistic explanatory accounts?” (Sinnerbrink, 8)
Arthur Danto coined this term, defined as "the attempt to subsume works of art into a philosophical discourse that enables us to master, comprehend and subordinate the work to theoretical or moral concerns.” (Sinnerbrink, 4). This is where the motion picture artform comes in – an assist to contemporary philosophical debate’s aggressive character. Let’s take a brief look at how both philosophical and aesthetic theories and the art of cinema have developed in the last century. “The original question that animated much early film theory was the question of film as art. Was the new medium of film merely a clever technical gadget, suitable for recording works of artistic performance? Or was it a new art form with its own creative possibilities?” (Sinnerbrink, 28)
This opened up aesthetics by begging the question - what is art? The prevailing academic approach to aesthetics became the INSTITUTIONAL THEORY of art, which is almost entirely useless. It was a kind of perverse, pathetic mirror of the DADA it wanted to know. Rather than query the nature, the quality, the “why” of thing in itself, it simply defines that art exists because artists, exhibitors, venues, and audiences exist. What they do, they call “art” and therefore participate in an “art world" that more or less really exists. This is professional philosopher George Dickie’s reducto ad absurdum of Arthur Danto’s critique of the “philosophical disenfranchisement of art.” Pointless? I agree.
For revolutionary thinkers Bazin, Cavell, and the astonished they leave in their wake, something radical is uncovered by the film art and the theory it inspires. Attempting to bridge the divide, film-philosophy (here called Cinesophia) holds that “the cinema – whatever other enjoyments it affords – is motivated by our desire for metaphysical connection with the world, ‘the wish for selfhood’, like all art; yet it shows us that we can only find this retrieval of meaning only in ordinary experience, however ambiguous or uncertain it may be, and however much the spectre of skepticism still haunts it.” (103-104) Side note, art films and exploitation films have equal grounding here.
Two schools currently compete for dominance in the realm of rational scholarship in the admixture of film and philosophy. In the Rationalist corner: Philosophy of Film. Philosophy of Film “embraces empirical and cognitivist psychology, the argumentative techniques of analytic philosophy, rejects ideological-critical and politically committed approaches, and downplays the former paradigm’s emphasis on film interpretation.” (Sinnerbrink, 6) They’ll go into all kinds of pseudoscientific fantasies that look like Star Trek but not everyone is into this. But they’ll make interesting observations and present their findings as facts. This developed as a response to aesthetic Grand Theory, a malaise of psychoanalytic, semiotic, structuralist/post-structuralist, and phenomenological critiques that made film theory all-too woo-woo for the analytic-cognitivist types.
Romantic approaches soaked up what was bludgeoned in the death of Grand Theory and chose as a pragmatic partner those who experienced a similar “de-facto epistemological dismissal of the humanities…cultural studies, media theory, post-colonialism, gender studies, queer theory, reception studies, production histories, historical and cross-cultural approaches...”(Sinnerbrink, 4)
Etc. Etc. Usually documented by historians, fans, scholars, social scientists, and a handful of theorists here and there. This approach is often available in artfully curated film programming, or in the leaflets of your Criterion discs, or in the Special Features of this or that disc or streaming service. For those of you who share my general geographic location, we have the benefit of film programmers who offer these tantalizing tidbits of production histories and the personalities involved, along with queries about form and technique, live and in person. Places like New York and Chicago and Los Angeles have that.
And I do believe in a critique of The Philosophy of Film and in the worthy opponents it draws as meager allies. That’s what I do. For the worst? Say “Fuck you, you’re wrong.” Or better yet, fantasize about a well-placed “fuck off.” Or “I fucking love you,” as in, deep as you are and as chaotic as it can be, this is only fucking and fuck you for fucking me. “Any attempt to stymie theoretical reflection in the name of ideological or political orthodoxy is rife for criticism; but then again so is political vacuity - or indifference toward the larger social, cultural, historical and ideological forces that also contribute to the context of film.” (19) Bring it on, critics.
It all made sense. That was the frightening part.
It was a well-known fantasy (as opposed to a well-known fact) that scrawled its way through pages young and old yet remained entirely obscure. A consistent heartbeat instructed each movement, each disparate sequence. A call to wisdom. Those such valuables souls that bid two to become one, and for one to seek wisdom. Wisdom, which you will find if you search sincerely for it. Wisdom, which will find you astonishingly troubled when you find it. Wisdom, herself, astonishingly troubled.
Sophia’s character consists of the following: mother to God the Father. She who bore that original Ialdabaoth, demiurge, inferior to humanity but whose rules we labored to satisfy. Yahweh, the jealous one-and-only, sample of a man to all men, sample of a husband to all women. Elohim, all-powerful, all-knowing, in His benevolent quest to rape humanity of both innocence and dignity until He could arise victorious, leeching power from the powerless. God of the weak, reflecting His weakness. Unconscious of the pleroma of beyond paradise, the pantheon above and below Him. He creates humans to glorify Himself, but the spark in their eyes from Life, Afterthought, even Eve, surpasses His light. He extinguishes it gladly in His creations. He is threatened by their superiority.
Lion-faced, with the body of a snake. Lion-faced, consumed by lust. The snake embodied his more contemplative side, his cunning, his knowledge of good and evil. In his full form he prowls with his eyes and bores his danger deeply into the soul of his participant by any means necessary, front and rear, every orifice. Conquering the flesh mightily, easily, he may need a meal to satisfy the Sovereign, eating you at the end of your usefulness. The eaten find incorporation with their God.
Jesus cautions: blessed is the man who eats the lion, so that the lion becomes human. Woe unto the man eaten by the lion, as he becomes a lion. His form exposes the duality of his nature as, at once, Satan, his own adversary, his vanity, his uncompassionate strength, and his material manipulation of guilt by copulation.
Denoument: The Outsider, The Lighthouse
Who is the boogeyman? How does man-kind reclaim a positive masculine identity for himself?
Brakke, David. “The Body as/at the Boundary of Gnosis.” Journal of Early Christian Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, 2009, pp. 195–214., doi:10.1353/earl.0.0256.
Brakke, David. “Pseudonymity, Gnosis, and the Self in Gnostic Literature.” Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, 2017, pp. 194–211., doi:10.1163/2451859x-12340036.
MacDermot, Violet. The Fall of Sophia: a Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness. Lindisfarne, 2002.
Meyer, Marvin W. The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library. HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.
Millett, Kate. Sexual Politics. University of Illinois Press, 2000.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Religion and Sexism: Images of Women in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. Simon and Schuster, 1974, Religion and sexism: Images of Women in the Jewish and Christian Traditions.
Shlain, Leonard. Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light. Quill, 1993.
Sinnerbrink, Robert. New Philosophies of Film: Thinking Images. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011.