The Week in Conspiracy | 1 Sept, 2017

The Week in Conspiracy is out – https://paper.li/d_g_robertson/1502115472#/

Some updates… The manuscript of The Brill Handbook of Religion and Conspiracy, which Asbjorn Dyrendal, Egil Asprem and I have been working on for the last couple of years, was submitted to the publishers last week. I’m getting ready to travel to Chester for the annual conference of the British Association for the Study of Religion, where I will be giving a paper on Competing Narratives of Gnosticism, the first fruit of my current research project on the contemporary discourse on Gnosticism. More on that soon…

First Thoughts on The Perception Deception

One downside to being a specialist in David Icke’s work is that his books get longer as the titles get more defiant, more iconoclastic and frankly funnier. 2010’s Human Race, Get Off Your Knees: The Lion Sleeps No More at 690 pages was the previous record holder, but his latest, The Perception Deception: Or… It’s ALL bollocks – yes, ALL of it (913 pages) is the clear winner. And it’s taken me a while to get through it.

This book was written between Icke’s Wembley Arena show in October 2012 and the launch of The People’s Voice in February. Icke was heavily involved in the People’s Voice, a subscriber-funded Internet tv channel, when it launched, fronting several funding campaigns, making frequent appearances and bringing in many of his collaborators and family, including his son, Gareth and Neil Hague, whose images are heavily featured in The Perception Deception. The People’s Voice is floundering at present, and Icke has all but dropped out of the project – I intend to write a piece detailing the development of the People’s Voice for this blog soon. Icke is at work on a second Wembley Arena gig on October 25th this year.

In many respects, The Perception Deception follows a similar structure to Icke’s work from around the time of 2003’s Tales from  the Time Loop. Prior to this he had generally started with one or other conspiracy theory, and extrapolated from it out into the more rarified levels of the “Global Control Pyramid”, infamously situating Reptilian extraterrestrials at the apex. But from 2003, his concern moves to the idea that all of our apparent reality is illusory, a kind of “dreamworld”. His books and presentations over the last decade have flipped the previous structure, beginning with the illusory Dreamworld and descending from there into the specific conspiracies of the everyday world.

The parallels to the “anticosmic” theologies of various Gnostic theologies and philosophies is clear, and it is telling that Icke often uses the term “the Matrix” to describe the illusory world of the 5 senses, given that the hugely popular movie repackaged Gnostic ideas into a science-fiction narrative. However, as I picked up on at Wembley in 2012, Icke has taken more overt influence from Gnosticism – or at least, from the somewhat simplified popular construction of it. There are numerous references here to “the Gnostic texts” (82, 168, ff), which Icke suggests provide evidence that the physical world is a trap and that the moon is hollow. Most interestingly, however, is that Icke is moving away from talking of reptilians towards talking of Archons particularly, with reptilians becoming one expression or manifestation among others of energetic archonic beings. One could argue that Icke is doing this to minimise the often-ridiculed reptilian thesis without being seen as abandoning it altogether, but I think that rather, he has found a way to reconcile the apparent contradiction between having evil extraterrestrial agents and a world which is illusory. Wouldn’t that make the reptilians illusory too, and the threat they pose? Not if they are projections of malevolent archontic energies from outside the Matrix…

Other than that, there is little that is new in The Perception Deception. Rather, it is a comprehensive exposition of his previous work: the illusory dreamworld of Tales from the Time Loop; the global conspiracies of …And the Truth Shall Set You Free and Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster; Human Race, Get off your Knees‘ “moon matrix” and it’s connection with Saturn from Remember Who You Are; even the more Theosophically-inspired material from his earliest books like the seldom-acknowledged Love Changes Everything, particularly the narrative of the corruption of a Luciferian being and the subsequent “fall” and separation of mankind from the rest of the universe. That narrative also recalls the work of G. I. Gurdjieff, who himself drew liberally from Gnostic traditions. I’ll explore the influence of Gurdjieff on Icke’s work in a future post.

GnosticNYC

GnosticNYC is a new centre for the study and practice of contemporary gnosticism in the New York area.  Although billed as a non-denominational organisation, it seems to operate largely under the aegis of the Apostolic Johannite Church. It’s on Madison Avenue, perhaps suggesting how media-savvy these guys can be. That’s not meant as a slight; the increased public profile of contemporary gnosticism in recent years is largely down to these guys, particularly through their creation of the North American College of Gnostic Bishops which presents a united front of gnosticism and allows them to attend such events as the  2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

Co-founder and AJC priest Anthony Silva recently gave an interview with Miguel Conner, a prominent promoter of contemporary gnosticism (though not, to my knowledge, affiliated with the AJC). It can be read here, but I present a couple of choice quotations below;

Our view of Gnosticism is informed by the Nag Hammadi scriptures, inspired by the Gnostics of the early centuries of Christianity and the Neo-Platonists, and follow generally the two points put forward by Jules Doinel at the restoration of Gnosticism in the late 19th century. Namely: The doctrine of emanations and salvation by Gnosis.

Historically, this is pretty accurate, which is not always the case with contemporary gnostics.  Informed by Nag Hammadi is correct, because the lineage to which the AJC belong predates their discovery. Inspired by the early gnostics is accurate, because there is no historical connection, and indeed, they may not even have existed at all.

I first came to Gnosticism, believe it or not, through The Da Vinci Code, but my searching started long before that. From the time I was in my early teens I started to question the Roman Catholic faith of my upbringing, as many people do these days. I started to read as much as I could about the different religions of the world to try to find my place among them. The neo-pagan movement appealed to me for some time, but it was never really quite right for me.

This underlines the point I’ve made before, that contemporary gnosticism is essentially a critique of Catholicism which seeks to reconcile contemporary notions of individuality with a Catholic-derived liturgical organisation. But The Da Vinci Code? Really? You only heard of gnosticism in 2003 and you’re a priest already? That’s some spiritual fast-tracking!

Just as in the popular move The Matrix, we know that there are many today who feel like that there is something wrong with this world we’ve come to know as the “real” world. GnosticNYC is for them. The practices, rituals and dogmas of Gnosticism in its many forms are tools that people can use to escape the Matrix and defeat the archons/Agents.

Cool!

Present danger…

I am to present before the Edinburgh University Religious Studies seminar a week today, and to use unacademic language, I’m shitting it. My title is “Typologies of 20th century ‘Gnosticism'”, and I only have to speak for some fifteen minutes. But still. If this was in front of degree-level people, fine: but in front of professors and doctors… there is the distinct possibility that they could humiliate me.

Having said that, I have handed in 7000 words of my thesis, and it was positively received. And an email to respected scholar on “Gnosticism” April DeConick had an interesting and, I think, positive reply. So research-wise, things are looking alright. I have a conditional offer for a Ph.D., and funding applications continue apace.

Some work done on Under the Rainbow #2. None on anything else.

An email from a legend

It’s time I should mention my research. I’m working on a Masters by Research at Edinburgh University, on 20th Century Gnosticism. But I’ll tell all about that another time.

You may have seen this Vanity Fair interview with the legendary comic artist Robert Crumb (the epitome of “underground”). He’s currently promoting his illustrated version of The Book of Genesis, and in the interview he states that he considers himself a Gnostic.

So I sent an email to his official website, asking if there was any possibility of asking what he understood “Gnostic” to mean, not really expecting any reply. Yesterday, his reply arrived, only two days later.

 

Mr. Robertson,
I define myself as a gnostic in the loosest sense of the word.  As different from an athiest, who denies the existence of God, or an agnostic, who doubts the existence of God, or a true believer, who accepts on faith some traditional conception of God, as a “Gnostic,” I believe in the existence of some higher, greater force behind our universe, but I don’t presume to fully understand what that force is, or how it works.  But I want to know.  I want unity with that force.  I seek knowledge of that greater being.  That’s my definition of “gnostic,” and that’s about it.
R. Crumb

What a gent. Incidentally, Robert Crumb also drew a comic based on Philip K. Dick’s “Gnostic experience”, and you can read it here.