Saturday, April 4, 2009

Readings: Spooky Stuff

In continuing his explication of the Gnostic interpretation of heimarmene, Hans Jonas provides us with the following excerpt from the Corpus Hermeticum:

[I]t is the natural condition of man to be a prey of the alien forces which are yet so much of himself, and it requires the miraculous supervening of gnosis from beyond to empower the imprisoned pneuma [spirit] to come into its own. “Those who are enlightened in their spiritual part by a ray from the divine light—and they are few—from these the demons desist…all the others are driven and carried along in their souls and their bodies by the demons, loving and cherishing their works…All this terrestrial rule the demons exercise through the organs of our bodies, and this rule Hermes calls “heimarmene (Corpus Hermeticum)

Jonas then comments:

Thus inner-worldly existence is essentially a state of being possessed by the world, in the literal, i.e., demonological, sense of the term.

I guess that depending on how one chooses to interpret the word "demon," one could derive either St. Paul's "powers and principalities," or the myriad lusts and urges teeming around in Freud's Id, or even, maybe, whatever the hell it is that Tom Cruise was bedeviled by before he graduated to "Clear," leaving him free to bounce unashamedly on Oprah's couch.