An English In Kentucky


















Friday September 28th 2012    Tim Candler

     I think the point is that Russell's essays on mysticism, which he wrote in the twentieth century,  matched the early Christian Church's attitude toward the Gnostics.  I'd argue too that the essential nature of authority, or politics, is to maintain a central  body of knowledge, or meaning.  Then challenges to the meaning of this or that part of the Great Book, have to be presented, given over to war, or argued and discussed, common cause or compromise found, before a new or changed meaning is entered into the Great Book of Meaning.  Which of course pisses off those who tend toward a belief in the intuitive intellect, because once intuition is sacred, it's products too are sacred and should not be humbled by what some call orthodoxy, or what the well adjusted might mistake for common sense.  And it's worth noting here that the Gnostics who so infuriated the early Christian Church, believed in an idea of being which the Gospel of Mary might better have explained.  Gnostics claimed that of the several parts of a person, the body and perhaps its mind were doomed, but the spirit or soul, during it's time here on earth had access to other planes of being that were more rarified and pure, and elsewhere, and from which planes, insight and encouragement came, and into which the spirit or soul would return once the body and its evilly inclined  mind had satisfied its opportunities on earth.  Which is why Mary when she saw that Jesus had apparently risen from the dead, far from being alarmed, asked calmly what part of her was seeing him.  Which  Door of Perception, I guess.

    Nor do I believe Russell ever dismissed mysticism as just so much nonsense. Instead he saw 'intuition' as an aspect of mind that was somewhat fraught by the imponderables of motive and their origins.  Certainly intuitive solutions had often provided good solutions, but equally true intuitive solutions had also resulted in terribly poor solutions. And this was especially obvious when successful solutions from intuition where statistically rated against successful solutions from the Great Book of Meaning.  I mention all this because I watch long hours of television and sometimes while doing so,  gnostic moments offer the impression that my own species just might be more closely related to Lemmings than we'd like to think.  Which is a good enough place to remember at least one familiar entry in the Great Book of Meaning that produces in me a truly  intense dislike for Mickey bloody Mouse and his profit motive.  In the Academy Award winning documentary, White Wilderness, the Disney crew took a non-migratory and very adorable looking species of Lemming from the Hudson Bay area to Calgary, where there are no Lemmings, and there, in order to prove a much disputed point about another species of Lemming throwing themselves from cliffs, the bastards designed a rather complicated device to toss Lemmings from a cliff.  Tangential maybe, but worth noting, that my fellow sufferer, Darwin, who considered females of our species more compassionate and intuitive but less reasoning, also argued against eugenics. It was his view that because we are not wise, nor were we intended to be, a selective breeding of people could weed out 'compassion' which he considered the signature feature of our own species and at least one source of our success. Bless him.

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