The recent and still boiling controversy about the nature, choice, type, assortment, variety, disparity, quality, benefits or dangers of available Covid vaccines shows clearly that the approximation of ideas cannot abate the vehemence of passion. And passion leads men to display behavior remote from the precincts of reason.
The whole bears some similarities to fundamentalist evangelists, proclaiming fantastic religious beliefs to eager ears and unreasoning minds, or missionaries exposing a metaphysical creed to illiterate shepherds.
For we saw and heard self-appointed health authorities, politicians and sundry lackeys who never saw a virus in their lives, talking authoritatively about viral behavior on prime time TV.
This article does not deal with vaccines, and if anyone should ask what side I am on I could not answer. And not out of self-imposed neutrality. But, addicted as I am to what is totally, utterly and incontrovertibly useless, many years ago I came across a tract by Pythagoras (if it was him) stating that a man, after the age of thirty, ought to be the physician of himself.
There and then the statement seemed to partake of the odd, but, given my penchant for oddities, I thought I would attempt the experiment. And, as we know, nature breeds a habit in a man. Days grew into weeks, months, years and decades. And, lo and behold, I am still here, though keenly aware that we are but earth and dust and, live it as we may, yet die we must.
I can imagine the reader’s thought, “… you do not mean to say that you have never been ill.” Of course I don’t. Unlike Hamlet I do not believe that the name of frailty is exclusively woman’s, it belongs to the species. I was indeed ill at times, but the Heavens, possibly helped with some ‘simples,’ as herbal medicines were called in earlier times, helped me (so far) to return to action.
Here, however, I would like to continue an unpretentious adventure of ideas, and investigate the historical seeds and weak beginnings of a mode of thought that today has distilled or condensed into its latest externation, namely the Covid phenomenon. Considering that the number 3 is involved in this and other related ideas, customs, folklore, mores, morals and beliefs.
The starting point, somewhat arbitrarily, will be Joachim of Flora (Gioacchino da Fiore 1135-1202, an abbot born in Calabria, Italy). Those who follow my historical videos-sketches series may recall or refer to the episode titled “Zeitgeist, Covid and the History of Medicine” – https://youtu.be/TrjddMfECdg Where, among others, we meet the Cerretans (inhabitants of Cerreto, Italy), etymological source for the term ‘charlatan’. Gioacchino da Fiore was called on site to decide on the fate of the self-styled healers of Cerreto, whom Gioacchino condemned in the strongest possible terms.
The Catholic Church made Gioacchino a saint in 1688. A feat impossible today because he was a staunch and unabashed anti-Semite. Not only, but after the Vatican II Council, the Catholic Church hierarchy has conducted an almost Soviet-style purge of icons, paintings, sculptures and chapels dedicated to anti-Semite saints, or saints in odor of anti-Semitism. (see article ‘Quo Vadis Vatican?’ https://rb.gy/4vmguc).
But I digress. Joachim of Flora (hereinafter referred to as Joachim) lived in an age when European Christian society was still structured into two orders, the Transcendental, referring to an entity whose proof only exists in faith, and the temporal. The Pope, through the Church, was the bridge to the Transcendental, while the Emperor was the manager of the temporal. The view of society as separated into the spiritual and temporal power derives originally from St. Augustin and is defined as ‘Augustinian’.
Joachim’s innovation was to introduce the symbol of the Trinity into the course of history, and, by so doing he gave a physical habitation to a metaphysical concept, which is a contradiction in terms.
For Joachim the history of mankind evolved through three ages, corresponding to the persons of the Trinity. The first age of the world was the Father’s, the second the Son’s, the third the Spirit’s. The leader of the first age was Abraham, of the second Christ and by 1260 AD there would appear a Dux (leader), the leader of the third age.
Echoes of such extraordinary prediction are even found in Dante’s Divine Comedy (1265-1321) – namely in the foretelling by Beatrice, his platonic girlfriend on earth and sublime image of divine perfection in Paradise. Beatrice envisions a time when the stars will bring about a messenger whose name is formed by three numbers, 500, 5 and 10, which in Roman numerals spell ‘D’, ‘U’ and ‘X’, meaning Dux, that is Latin for ‘leader.’ This Dux was supposed to metaphorically slay the giant (in the instance France) and the prostitute (in the instance the Church) then reputed to be at France’s service.
As the reader can surmise, Dante was unhappy with the Church of his time and he put at least two popes in hell.
Incidentally, ‘Dux’ in Italian is ‘Duce’ and Duce was how Italians called Mussolini. His PR machine went as far as identifying in Mussolini the leading ‘Dux’ of Beatrice’s prediction. Readers interested to know more about the History of Italy and Dante (of whom this year is the 700th death anniversary) may watch my related Historical Video Sketch (https://youtu.be/-WkmxRYKpLw).
By his apparently-neutral interpretation of a ‘trinitarian,’ goal-oriented history, Joachim introduced into the historical narrative a set of symbols that apply to the self-interpretation of society up to this day.
The first symbol is the conception of history as a triad, a sequence of three ages – the third of which, in some cases, is also called the final Third Realm.
We find the idea of the ‘Third Realm’ in philosophy, as a ‘world of internal consciousness.’ A notorious example of the Third Realm, in recent history, is the Third Reich. Though the German ‘Third Reich’ – historically – is less important than other instances where the third age is the end of things. For example, the recently and often repeated ‘end of history,’ meaning the triumph of unfettered neoliberal turbo-capitalism.
In the topic triad, history moves from nation-states to communism and, after its defeat, to the Third Realm of the Obamanesque exceptional nation – possibly with the world capital moved to Jerusalem, as Ben Guriom – the symbolic leader of this ‘triad’ – had predicted.
In all instances the ‘Third Realm’ implies(d) a finality, the goal of lives, the form of things unknown, the aim of mankind.
Another example. A Russian monastic leader called Theophilus of Pskov (1465-1542) wrote to Czar Ivan IV suggesting the following. One original Rome had fallen to the Barbarians (476 AD), and the second Rome (Costantinople) had fallen to the Turks (1452 AD). Now Moscow would be the Third Rome, and there would not be a fourth.
Joachim himself envisaged or anticipated that, in the third age, the church would cease to exist, for the spiritual gifts necessary for a perfect life would be granted to every man. In practice Joachim envisioned a ‘final’ society of monks, sufficiently and spiritually perfect so as to do away with institutional authorities.
To be fair, Joachim’s new age would come about through a transcendental irruption of the spirit, that would make men spiritually perfect. Meaning that he did not actually sever history from the influence or necessity of God.
Following Joachim, humanists and encyclopedists divided history into three stages, ancient, medieval and modern.
French philosopher Auguste Comte (1797-1858) and founder of Positivism, saw in history the development of three phases, theological, metaphysical and scientific. Hegel identified three psychological stages of freedom and self-fulfillment. Marx and Marxism point at the three stages of primitive communism, class-based society and final communism.
The second symbol – the first having to do with history as a sequence of three stages – refers to the figure of the leader. Joachim saw the leader in St. Francis, Dante in the mysterious character earlier mentioned, Machiavelli in the ‘Prince’ of his major work. For Theophilus of Pskov the leader was Ivan IV.
The third symbol, connected to the second, refers not so much to a leader but to the prophet of a new age, the catalyst of the forthcoming Third Realm
What is the function of the prophet? To make the course of history meaningful and accessible to human knowledge, through direct revelation.
One example, out of many: the prophets of the fundamentalist Christians of the US South, typified by one of their leaders, pastor John Hagee. They are essentially worshipers of Judaism, because in their imminent third phase of history, the Jews will become Christians – hence the presence among them of a sub-sect called ‘Jews for Jesus’ (not a joke).
Central to Christian Zionist belief is Scofield’s commentary (italicized below) on Genesis 12:3: “‘I will bless them that bless thee.’ In fulfillment closely related to the next clause, ‘And curse him that curseth thee.’ Wonderfully fulfilled in the history of the dispersion. It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew—well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle.”
Drawing on Scofield’s rather tendentious Biblical interpretation, Hagee claims, “The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God.”
But to render the idea of a Third Realm possible, there must be a final meaning of history, accessible to human knowledge via human speculation. And here is the seed of all that will follow.
What is the inner and critical importance of the conversion of history into a sequence of three ages or stages?
The ‘three-age-model’ introduces a fundamental shift in the interpretation of history and – equally important – in the interpretation of life. It is a ‘Gnostic’ shift. It borrows from the original heresy of Gnosticism the idea that the world is separate from Divinity, from the Transcendent, from God.
As all know, faith is the bridge that connects palpable life with the Transcendent. That bridge is eliminated. In simplified terminology, for ‘Gnostic shift’ read ‘God is irrelevant in the conduct of human affairs.’ And to simplify reading, from now on, whenever the term ‘gnostic’ appears I will add ‘God irrelevant to human affairs’.
I did something similar – rewriting the meaning of a new or strange word each time I found it – when I was at school and college. By so doing the word’s meaning eventually stuck somewhere in the brain, among the synapses, of which there are said to be trillions.
Back to the historic power of three. It may not have been the original intention of Joachim of Flora, but in the implementations of his three-ages theory of history, even in his original model, God eventually is un-necessary.
Such ideological turn becomes clearer in subsequent development of this mode of thought. As mentioned in a previous article, Marx dismissed any question about the Transcendent, the origin of life, the destiny of man and the destiny of mankind. For him these questions are abstractions, irrelevant to the consummation of felicity, concurrent with ‘final’ communism.
In the Marxian interpretation, the transcendent God is the projection of what is best in man in a fantasized (inexistent) beyond. The turning point in history (concurrent with the third stage of final communism) will occur when man will turn his projection of God back unto himself, and therefore he will become conscious that he himself is God. It follows that in this model man is transfigured into superman.
It should be added that the Transcendent is not exclusively an idea of Christianity. The Greeks referred to ‘Logos’ as the quintessential order, the essence of things, the essence of being. And as we know, the Gospel of John starts with, “In the beginning was the Logos” which, in the more familiar translated variant, is “In the beginning was the Word.”
In relation to the Gnostic disconnect (God irrelevant to human affairs) we may recall Plato’s symbolic representation of men living in a cave, who see projected on a screen the shadows of real objects stationed outside the cave. But the prisoners believe that the shadows are the real objects. And when someone enters the cave and tries to convince the prisoners about the illusion, they react angrily and kill him.
In a sense, the ‘reduction to three’ of the history of mankind and the concurrent disregard for the mystery of existence, is the running practical adaptation of Plato’s analogy of the cave.
Said in another way, the belief of a human-only finality of history ignores the effect on the world (and therefore on history) of what we could not possibly physically know, because it relies on faith.
But, by assuming a Gnostic (independent of God) finality, thinkers achieve(d) a certainty about the meaning of history and about their own place in it – a certainty that otherwise would not be possible.
We look for certainties to overcome uncertainties, with their consequent and attendant anxieties. But what uncertainty is so disturbing as to require the type of finality implied in the multiple division of history into sets of three stages each?
It is the uncertainty of Christianity, because uncertainty is its essence, it is the substance of things hoped-for and the proof of things unseen. In fact the substance of things hoped-for is only to be found in faith itself. For, both poetically and practically, we are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep (1).
It is easy to overlook this self-evident truth, especially for and by those almost forced to lust for massively possessive experiences via endless messages now broadcast worldwide anytime and anywhere. In these conditions men cannot even think of “walking a turn or two to still their beating mind.” (2) For having been conditioned to accept the false god of materialism they have made a god of falsity.
Incidentally, my reference to Christianity refers to the concept of the Divinity as a presence in life (however unfathomable), and NOT, for example, to the current structure or externations of the Catholic Church, especially after the coup-d’etat that forced Benedict XVI into resignation.
But returning to the idea of the three ages and realms, in the late Middle Ages humanists envisioned the Third Realm as the triumph of an intellectual life throughout the globe.
In the age of Reason, the French intellectual Condorcet envisioned the Third Realm as a unified civilization of mankind in which everybody would be a French intellectual. With the advancement of science and scientism, the third era of Comte (the founder of positivism), would replace the era of Christ.
Underlying the three-stage variations of the Gnostic truth (truth in a Godless world) is the idea that the world (or at least Western society) is moving purposely towards an ever-improving better end.
However, at this juncture we meet with a paradox. Beginning sometime in the XIX century a new literary trend became popular, dedicated to showing the decline of Western Civilization and its inevitable demise (emblematic is O. Spengler’s book, “The Decline of the West”.)
Yet, simultaneously, there has been an unprecedented expansion in technology, increase in population, standards of living and social consciousness. Which prompts the question of how can a civilization simultaneously advance and decline.
For an answer we should again refer to the Gnostic shift (God irrelevant in the conduct of human affairs).
Gnostic speculation removed the uncertainty of faith by assigning and devolving to man the ability to achieve the total fulfillment of his goals without the intervention of the Transcendent.
In this philosophy of life, the more-easily-envisioned creation of a terrestrial paradise substitutes the previously collectively-spread concern about the life to come.
But things and ideas do not disappear by declaring that they don’t exist. The expanding civilizational effort absorbed into itself the eternal destiny of man and substituted the civilizational effort for the life of the spirit.
Nietzsche, summarizing the situation, asked why men should live in the embarrassing condition of needing the love and grace of God. “Love yourself through earthly grace – Nietzsche said – then you no longer need your God, and you can act the whole drama of the Fall and Redemption within yourself.”
Yet such brave new world did not completely dismiss the issue of the afterlife and the uncertainties about immortality. For example, in one variation of the three-stage theme, immortality could be obtained through literary or artistic achievement, or through economic success that ensured salvation.
In fact, salvation through wealth was the essence of the Puritan-Protestant philosophy, in which a purely Puritan God is the supreme capitalist, who decides beforehand who are his favorite children by allowing them to become filthy rich – the filthier the better. Which reminds me of a pun told by the manager of a bank I used to deal with, “He who dies with the most money wins.”
One keen analyst of the process by which God is apparently maintained in the Gnostic interpretation of life [God irrelevant in the conduct of human affairs], was Richard Hooker (1554-1600).
The process is interesting, because it shows how to use scriptures to disguise Gnosticism, and it applies almost verbatim to the ‘fundamentalist’ Christian religious sects, earlier referred to.
Hooker showed that the Puritans used passages from the Bible to justify their legitimacy, while disguising their actual intent. The chosen Scripture passages were torn out of context to support the Puritan cause, while ignoring all interpretations that wouldn’t.
At the onset of this Gnostic revolution [God irrelevant in the conduct of human affairs] camouflage was necessary. For one, an openly anti-Christian movement would not have been acceptable at large. Furthermore Gnosticism was too near in time to traditional Christianity for the new Gnostic founders to be unaware or ignorant of their own new direction.
Still a competent critic like Richard Baxter, and others, could easily point to the truth behind the camouflage, thus creating difficulties and embarrassment.
Whereupon the new Gnostics developed some logistic instruments, as useful then as today to advance the Gnostic [God irrelevant in the conduct of human affairs], revolution.
As we know, the great revolution of the Protestant movement involved the admission that the interpretation of biblical meanings and tracts was free for all, according to individual preferences, background and education. Inevitably this would result in a Kabul-Overrun-by-Talibans style conditions, as regards the interpretation of the Bible, the Gospel and indeed Christianity.
The ingenious Puritan solution was to create essentially a new doctrine, formulated in scriptural language, but provided by Calvin. The end result was a ‘soft’ reversal of the ‘free-Bible-interpretation’ advocacy of the Reformation, under the very guise of the Reformation itself.
In other words, the brethren were free to interpret the Bible as they pleased, as long as it was Calvin’s.
Disguising the real scope of an action under false pretenses is as old as the hills – for example, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan etc.
In the instance, philosopher Eric Voegelin (from whom I extracted the essentials of his research), proposed to define the new Calvin-based reading of the Bible a Gnostic Koran. For just as the archangel Gabriel dictated the original Koran (which means ‘book’) to Muhammad, so Calvin issued his Gnostic Koran to contemporary and future followers.
In an illuminating comment the perplexed Richard Baxter said that Calvin “… gathered divine knowledge…by the admirable dexterity of wit.”
In the 1500s such commentaries as Baxter’s were heresy and indeed Baxter’s pronouncements were denounced as “absurdities… that have not been heard in public places in this land (England) since the days of Queen Mary.” He had to apologize to the Archbishop of Canterbury for “having indulged in some theoretical distinctions and excursions in my sermons.”
Calvin’s ‘Koran’ would be the first of several. The 18th century ‘Koran’ par excellence would be Diderot’s “Encyclopedie Francaise.” In the 19th century Comte published his Koran of the positivistic future and, of course, Marx’ “Das Kapital” was to be the Communist Koran for millions.
The second ingenious Calvinistic solution had to do with how to prevent embarrassing criticism of the type that got Richard Baxter in trouble.
To eliminate a problematic questioning of new Koran(s)’s validity, criticism was(is) forbidden, and/or the critic would become victim of broadsided defamation or worse.
In the last triad I will mention here – that is, from the death of Communism to sanitary scientific dictatorship, and finally to the Great Reset, the new archbishops of Canterburies have diligently and capillarily shut down and vilified critics of the dictatorship, using the massive power of monopolistic communication media.
That the price paid by the world at large has been the debasing and prostituting of the very concept of science was deemed small price to pay by the new Calvins, for the means justify the end of Gnostic [world without God] felicity.
Which brings me, as I said, to the most recent of the Gnostic triads, involving the death of Communism, the Sanitary Scientific Dictatorship and the Third Realm brought about by the Great Reset.
As many readers know, “The Great Reset” is also the title and thesis of a book written by Karl Schwab, guru, founder of and bigwig in the WEF (World Economic Forum), Bilderberg Group etc.
By the way, Karl Schwab, in my view, would be an ideal and formidable actor in a Hollywood movie – one of many, demonstrating how the US were the number one winners of WW2. Where, in the movie, a Nazi is blown up, after an explosive-laden chicken enters the bunker.
Getting to the end and while reading through the notes for this article, I realize that for readers who grew up under the cultural and educational influence of Nihilism and Cultural Marxism, now a capillary monopoly of education, most of what is written here may almost appear as senseless speaking, or speaking such as sense cannot untie. For the very idea of the Transcendent has vanished from what is euphemistically called the “public discourse.” It vanished in thin air and left not a trace behind.
Yet, attempting to make sense of history is perhaps the last refuge of the bewildered-with-uncertainty and of the emaciated-with-discontent. And though no explanation of our times is perfect, any is better than none. Besides, going to the bottom of things, searching for explanations is, in the end, a way to be free. Just as mental health and healing are possible by unraveling our deepest emotions.
Therefore I like to think that the ideas here exposed are self-evident enough as to attract some interest in themselves and in their divulgation.
Though experience suggests skepticism and the desolation of disillusion. For, just as for some people smoking gives them something to do with their hands when they are not using them, for many the official and corporate media gives them something to do with their minds when they are not thinking.
And perhaps absence of thought could also well be another “Third Realm,” a consummation devoutly to be wished (3).
(1) (2) The Tempest