2023-05-14 Notes on Gnosticism

Reading an interview with Olga Tokarczuk in The Paris Review Spring 2023 issue (p. 222). In answer to the question "How did you become interested in Gnosticism?", Tokarczuk replies:

The gnostic theory I took from that philosophy (Jewish Kabbalah) is called Pardes. It explains that reality has four layers, each of the accessed by a different means -- peshat, remez, derash, and sod, which correspond to literal meaning, allegory, analogy, and mystical revelation. To me, gnosis was a very challenging but also very appealing view of reality -- it called for constant wakefulness, for constant reexamination of what we think we see.
I was also drawn to Gnosticism for its direct opposition to the religion that surrounded me when I was growing up. It is, by some accounts, older than Christianity, but the two gradually became entwined -- it's seen as Christianity's dark side, as the alternative to its vision of the world. Today, the world seems to me to be shifting away from Christianity and back toward Gnosticism.

Excerpt from Christopher Lasch 1992 essay: Gnosticism, Ancient and Modern: The Religion of the Future?
Source: Salmagundi, No. 96 (Fall 1992), pp. 27-42
Published by: Skidmore College
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40548388
Page 40:

If the gnostic impulse finds expression in our time -- in the scientific dream of solving the mysteries of the universe, in New Age,spirituality, more generally in a mood of extremity and existential nostalgia -- it is because we too, like so many who lived in the fading glow of the Hellenistic civilization, have lost confidence in the world around us. ...
Civic life is swallowed up by the market; buying and selling become the only activities we have in common. ...
Gnosticism, the faith of the faithless, suits the twentieth century as well as it suited the second, and it may turn out to suit the next century better still. Its greatest opportunity, perhaps, still lies ahead. We can expect many people, still only dimly aware of its undeniable attractions, to fall on it as a religion seemingly made to order for the hard times ahead.

Some references