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Gene Wolfe
Discussing ‘Gods that Should not be Worshipped’ with Banjo


Gene Wolfe and gods that should not be worshipped

Tue, Apr 9, 11:08 AM (3 days ago)

I saw somewhere that you are reading Gene Wolfe. I recently was told about him. I searched him out and found this interview: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/529431/a-qa-with-gene-wolfe/

In one of his answers concerning one of his books he says the following "I’m assuming that the gods actually exist and are there, although from a Christian perspective they should not be worshipped. But on the other hand it’s foolish to think that they’re not there, because they are."

When discussing the Iliad with a number of people they try to dismiss the gods and their actions as acts of nature, human emotion or psychological factors and so on. This of course doesn't account for Paris and Hector being transported to other places in a mist. Therefore I see these acts as that of beings beyond the normal physical realm and I think Homer meant it that way...and he used the term gods so I do also. I also note that the acts of gods happen near turning points, great acts, tides turning in battle and so on. In your recent post titled "Far Broader Domains of Existence" you ask two questions that I think relate

Page 25: "Could the concept of super position be related to the Roman idea of a metaphysical overlay which only linked the divine and the temporal world at multidimensional events such as battles, sacrifices and celestial alignments?"

"Page 145: The possibility of connected universes suggests a validation of Jorjani’s philosophical and anecdotal-based theory of demonic dimensions. Any thoughts on his work in Prometheus and Atlas?"

I agree with Wolfe that there are powers greater than (postmodern) man. Forces behind the scenes of the physical realm. I also agree that these are not forces to be worshiped. I think Homer is on to something when he shows them as fickle and petty at times.

Will you comment on the idea of the gods, a hierarchy of gods, that maybe something happens in times of great stress, death or huge events that could cause another world/realm to be closer to this physical realm as this seems to be what you are saying in question 25. Also can you write on what the theory of demonic dimensions is in Prometheus and Atlas?

Thanks,

Banjo

An Attempt at Big-Brainedness

First, Jason Jorjani’s book Prometheus and Atlas took me months to read and annotate, despite being well-written and lucid, because I don’t have Jorjani’s second brain. It is beyond my ability to summarize, but the review is here ‘Far-Seer’. He effectively lays out how from Descartes through the 20th century the idea of the supernatural was scrubbed from Western thinking, which also coincides [I don’t think by coincidence] with the steady erosion of notions of honor and heroism in Western literature and culture, this being my point and not his. There are interviews and lectures of and by Jorjani on you tube in which he discusses such ideas as remote viewing. I suggest the interviews.

The metaphysical reduction of extra-human agency followed the following trajectory:

-Animistic people subscribed to countless extra-human agents of a Universal Consciousness, including totemic and ancestral spirits, with very few of these folk demonstrating hostility to the idea of a single unifying AllSpirit, if you will.

-Semi-Civilized [barbarian] peoples generally subscribed to a layered view with ancestral patron deities closest to the leadership and simple spirits of the fields and woods closer to the lower classes, all these arrayed among and against the gods of other folks, with these becoming layered into pantheons over time.

-High civilizations had the old animistic beliefs among the lowly, prosaic civic and local gods amongst the vested citizen, the mystery religions for the intellectual elite [the early Christians were generally elite ascetics, highly literate in an illiterate age and came from this upper social strata], the ancestral cults tied to the ruler or leadership, and a myriad of lesser and greater gods in their hierarchies that might be a patron of this or that. There were numerous cults of Apollo, seven I think, such as the Wolf, the Sun the Plague Bringer, the Master of Muses, etc. Such a mess of options did not sit well with imperial rulers and nomad conquerors who needed a simple, unifying faith.

-The Dark Ages, when the light of Civilization flickered low, saw a battle among Pharisee, Christian and Muslim for the mantel of a unifying faith to sure up or topple the disintegrating political structure, faiths which actually replaced political structures with religious structures, which then became politicized. Angels, avatars, saints, devils and demons figured as minor entities in these three dualistic faiths which all pitted a one and only God, a sky god [in Christian art depictions of Jesus were directly copied from those of Zeus] and his minions for good against an opposing force of evil and his minions of evil. Aspects of numerous earlier, pagan gods are aggregated into the one God having the powers of all of the hierarchal pantheons he supplanted, such as the Olympians, and employing lesser supra-human beings as avatars. This era was approximately 1,000 years, where the idea of One God Almighty stood among a notion of his realm beset from all around and within by all the earlier supra-human beings thought to have afflicted mankind in earlier times.

-Early modern denominations sprang up which reduced pagan holdovers such as the Virgin Mother Mary and the idea of the Trinity and generally directed the worship of God through Jesus only, who was believed to have lived as a man. This seems to have led to the habit of so many protestant leaders [even including the Founding Fathers, desists though many of them were] claiming to be the earthly agents of God, “Under God.” Just look at or money. Since the Reformation Christian gravity has tended to express itself as God-Agency cults such as the Mormons and many other denominations in which leaders and theological innovators claim exclusive or exceptional contact with God, if through his angels. With the science of critical thought pushing away the shadows of superstition on one hand and the agency of God on earth being claimed by more and more humans, the room for evil forces in the Christian mind generally became reduced to Satan as tempter, with the old metaphysical view of numerous extra-human entities dissolving into a general idea of temptation from the One True Path, which is always through Jesus, once a man, and most often through a certain charismatic leader, bringing God and Man closer together in the human mind.

-This process of demysticism and secularization devolves to deism, which is the vague notion of a creator which we may or may not wish to contact, to the technologically expanded notion of all Mankind as God’s agent, and effectively a collective God on earth, which found expression in such insane ideologies as communism, socialism and fascism, which were texts books for erecting the state as a Temple to Man, the earthly God.

-Since the Industrial Revolution, the notion of religion in what remains of Christendom as the de-Christianized “West” holds on as a very specific belief that there can be no extra-human intelligence operating beyond the narrow dualistic loop of God over Satan with Man stuck between, that it is directly Judaic in origin and that any beliefs held by any other people on the face of the earth now or in previous times represent either fantastical delusion or the trickery of Satan, not actual metaphysical beings.

Living as we are at the end of a 500-year cycle of promoting Man as God’s agent over previous ideals that God employed supra-human agents and a solid millennium of denying that any supra-human entity may exist that is not the explicit servant of God or his fallen agent Satan, our capacity to imagine things beyond our understanding—for if you listen to most any scientist on youtube you will discover that we inherited His omniscience—is severely retarded. Consider that most modern folk believe that computer modelers know exactly what the earth’s climate is doing, down to predictions a century out despite being unable to predict today’s weather yesterday, that Man is doing it subconsciously, able to accidentally reverse cosmic forces, and that we could save the earth from us simply by reducing are carbon footprint, and that many people believe this fanatically every bit as much as Cotton Mather, in 1692, believed that a woman who considered her inner thoughts to be hers and nobody else’s business should be drowned as punishment.

Are their evil lesser gods, devils, demons, angels, aliens with bad hair and worse intentions?

It beats me. But the inability of most people to consider that beings which we cannot understand might exist, in light of the fact we didn’t understand this machine I’m typing on 100 short years ago, is troubling confirmation that Man is the everlasting Fool.

Gene Wolfe R.I.P.

Gene Wolfe passed away early this week while I was unable to post on it.

As for Wolfe, he might have been speaking of any of his works, but was probably referencing Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, about Latro, a Latin mercenary serving the Persian empire against the Athenians and Spartan confederacy, who suffers a head injury which erases his memory with the coming of each dawn yet permits him to see the gods and lesser aspects of divinity and supra nature. The work is a masterpiece in oblique exposition.

Wolfe investigates divinity, heroism and the miraculous in:

The Book of the New Sun [4 volumes] and The Urth of the New Sun, all 5 volumes about a dying earth,

Litany of the Long Sun, 4 volumes about a generation ship from earth nearing its destination,

And the Saga of the Short Sun, 3 volumes about the survivors of that generation ship attempting to survive on the twin worlds of Blue and Green. Wolfe supposes that alien intelligences, once encountered, and that artificial intelligences, once created and unleashed, shall functionally behave as deities and avatars, particularly in light of the fact that most people living in technologically advanced civilizations continue to cling to delusions and fetishes and suffer from mass hysterias, such as man-made climate change, not unlike the illiterate peasants that demanded witch burning a mere few hundred years ago. I think correctly, Wolfe plays on the idea that most people can never be effectively literate or in possession of real social agency and are unable to abandon our innate superstition, however so much our educators try and drive it from us. In the Litany of the Long Sun the protagonist is a priest, worshipping the creator of the generation ship he lives within, a man, who like one of our social media titans, with such an ego that he wrote himself into the ship programing as its literal god. But the priest senses another deity, “The Outsider” whose sign is that of addition…

I think it was Asimov, an atheist, who said that technology sufficiently advanced is for all intents and purposes magic. Whether your religion is theistic or atheistic it is easy to see with the mob-like behavior of humans using current social media, how future use of media may begin to look more like the medieval Catholicism criticized by Descartes than Orwell’s 1984. Indeed, Jorjani points out that as soon as the French Revolution invalidated the Church that atheism in its most manic mold became a blind faith of bloody mob rule, eating its own in the very embers of that which it had destroyed.

Wolfe’s usual tack is to present the pagan ideal of “gods” as avatars of what Aristotle would have called the Unmoved Mover or the Cause Uncaused. This was where ancient paganism was headed when it was overtaken by Christianity, a form of monotheism with many lesser aspects of divinity, in other words, much like the Catholic Church with angels and saints serving as God’s avatars. Keep in mind that Catholic simply meant universal and that in Homer’s time such a notion was in force in the notion of Syncretism, with the Romans realizing that Mars and Ares were the same, that Jove and Zeus were likewise the same and that these manifestations of War and Natural Calamity were essentially human interpretations of aspects of the unknown and unknowable.

Below is a hopefully useful analogy, which is simply a crude and partial sketch of how Homer might have seen the first of the three great calamities that destroyed our modern civilization and ushered in the Dystopic Postmodern World.

Think of World War I as a deity, War, summoned and invited into the Human Sphere by a half-dozen criminally incompetent heads-of-state and the bankers that controlled them for their own fiendish purposes. This war consumed lives and cities like a bonfire consumes kindling and ruined or corrupted every nation that was sucked into its furnace. World War I was the first of three acts in the Suicide of Western Civilization, WWII and the War on Drugs being acts 2 and 3, and can very rationally be seen as a force unto itself that commanded nations rather than nations commanding it. In ancient Greek terms this would be Ares in the ascendant, with the Spanish Flu of 1919 representing Apollo’s far-darting arrows of plague, punishing Man for abandoning his arts and/or turning them to evil purpose, the bankers controlled by Hades, The Descender to feed his dismal realm of forlorn souls. The war served Zeus, chief of the gods, by crippling Mankind’s ability to peacefully advance technologically [Jorjani’s concept of Prometheus and Atlas as human titans challenging evil Zeus] and shackling future generations to endless War and pointless toil for the banker parasites, for when Man takes thunder and uses it to satisfy his own greed he serves the higher powers, powers which on his scale are necessarily evil.

I am not the kind of person who believes in unproven specifics, but rather in broad and fathomless possibilities. And, within that worldview there is room for God and the gods who either serve him or have been cast down or out, the latter traditionally being the demonic and devilish possibilities that wrapped Christendom in fear while it prospered like a candelabra [as envisioned by medieval and early modern theologians] in the dark, a very apollonian image. There is also the consideration of old supplanted gods and a long-held belief that one may deny a god life simply by disbelieving and if no one believes than that god shall languish and withdraw like the elves in Tolkien’s fables “diminishing into the west.”

This worldview sees humanity as a sea of psychic energy upon which ethereal beings might feast or from which they might rise and take form.

So, for the lurking heathen like myself, who decides that Odin reads an awful lot like an extinct Aryan Christ, is there a possibility that enough of us tiny souls believing that our relationship with God was taken from us by the scheming priests of another God and our own traitor elite, might stir him to life?

That is not something I believe but a possibility I do entertain.

Under the God of Things

https://www.amazon.com/Under-God-Things-Soul-Eating-Civilization/dp/1537457330/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472995457&sr=1-8&keywords=james+lafond

Masculine Axis: A Meditation on Manhood and Heroism

https://www.amazon.com/Masculine-Axis-Meditation-Manhood-Heroism/dp/1976016479/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505657109&sr=1-1

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