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There Are Three Kinds of People….

There are two kinds of people–those who divide people into groups and those who don’t.

There are three kinds of people–those who can count and those who can’t.

Okay, enough with the rimshot-level bad jokes….  I do want to look at a particular way of dividing people into groups, though–three groups, to be precise.  I will explain why a little later.  The model I’m going to discuss is of Gnostic origin.  As regular readers know, I have a certain amount of sympathy for many Gnostic concepts, while remaining (mostly) orthodox myself.  I have, in fact, written a series about Gnosticism, to which this post belongs.  Many aspects of the Gnostic mythos have passed into contemporary pop culture, with some themes practically becoming tropes; e.g. the dichotomy between the illusory world of appearances and the true world as it is, the control of the world by sinister demiurgic or archontic powers, and the necessity of special knowledge (gnosis) to see the world as it is.  The theme I want to look at here is much less frequently discussed in the culture at large, although well-known, if perhaps not widely spoken of, in Gnostic circles.

To set the stage, let us rehearse, in supremely condensed style, the overall thrust of the Gnostic worldview (or “mythos”, which I later discussed at much greater length over here).  Generally the Gnostic worldview sees the cosmos in strongly dualistic terms, divided between spirit, which is held to be holy and pure, and matter, which is held to be evil and tainted.  The True God–sometimes called the “Alien God”–is purely spiritual, and neither made the material world nor had anything to do with it.  His realm consists of the lower beings, pure minds, which the True God emanated from His own essence.  The combination of all these beings–usually referred to in Gnostic contexts as “Aeons”, but equivalent to what we’d call “angels”–along with God is the Pleroma–the Fullness.

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The Matrix of Infrastructure

Written a few years back, lightly edited.

I was re-watching The Matrix Reloaded today; it was actually the first time I had seen it since its original theatrical run a few years back.  It is still, IMO, the best of the trilogy.  Anyway, as I re-watched it, something in it struck me that I had forgotten and which reminded me of my earlier post about infrastructure.

It is the scene about a quarter of the way into the movie where Neo goes walking in Zion, being unable to sleep, and runs into Councillor Harmann.  They chat for a bit, then go down to the engineering level.  Remember, Zion is the city of humans who have been freed from the Matrix.  It is deep underground, and thus requires complicated life-support systems to provide air, water recycling, food (grown hydroponically?  synthesized?), and so on.

The Councillor waxes philosophical, noting that the populace of Zion is just as dependent on their machines as the humans still unknowingly plugged into the Matrix are dependent upon the machines that run the Matrix.  He says, “There is so much in this world that I do not understand. See that machine? It has something to do with recycling our water supply. I have absolutely no idea how it works. But I do understand the reason for it to work.”  Read the rest of this entry