Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Number 34

I spent much of my late 20s and early 30s plowing through C.G. Jung. That fascination led me far afield, into Gnosticism, mysticism, parapsychology, and of course to the writings of alchemists. These half-serious readings took me from the puzzling works of Basilius Valentinus to Thomas Aquinas and finally to the great 20th century practitioner of esoteric science, Fulcanelli. I'd often been confounded by the odd pagan mythological and Zodiacal signs carved into Gothic cathedrals in Europe, sure somehow that they "meant" something, and consequently I found Fulcanelli's Le Mystère des Cathédrales an enormous delight.

Various literary meanderings led from Fulcanelli to R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (an outstanding biographical sketch here, penned by of all people the bassist from Blondie), and his at times impenetrable works concerning perennial philosophy. Schwaller was an artist, a chemist, a philosopher, an Egyptologist, an inventor, a linguist, a mathematician--a smart fucking guy. That he was also an alchemist might strike one as surprising, given that alchemy is regarded these days as primitive chemistry or, if one follows Jung's presumptions, as merely a symbolic system for self-discovery. But Isaac Newton regarded his alchemical work as the most important project of his life, and he weren't no dummy. Nor was Goethe, nor Aquinas. Nor Jung, for that matter, though Schwaller thought Jung got it wrong. To Schwaller alchemy was spiritual, but at the same time it provided true insights into the nature of Matter. In The Egyptian Miracle he points out that Johannes Kepler left no evidence--no notes, no calculations--describing how he came to formulate his Three Laws of Planetary Motion. I learned from Carl Sagan that Kepler "foolishly" used to play with Platonic solids in order to understand the solar system, but then turned to real mathematics (as opposed to Pythagorean mysticism)to finally figure things out. No evidence needed, of course--he must have used mathematics as we understand them today, right? Logic demands it!

Schwaller quotes from Kepler's writings about the origin of his Laws:

It was eight months ago that I first saw a ray of light; it has been three months since I have seen the light of day; finally, a few days ago, I saw the sun of the most admirable contemplation. I am abandoning myself to my enthusiasm. I want to challenge mortals by the ingenuous confession that I have plundered the golden vessels of the Egyptians in order to furnish a sacred tabernacle for my God out of them, far from the borders of Egypt.

Strange for a mathematician of note to behave thus--to admit a revelatory or an intuitive scientific illumination--with a basis in Egypt. (But think of savants with no training who can provide the answers to enormously complex problems, and you'll be less skeptical perhaps?) Newton credited his alchemical studies for his discoveries in optics and color. Are we on to something?

Schwaller believed that the wholly unintelligible renderings of hieroglyphs into modern languages were unsatisfactory for a reason, and he spent 15 years at Karnak formulating his magnum opus. Along the way he discovered evidence that the Egyptians were master mathematicians who knew of Pi and Phi and the Pythagorean Theorem millenia before Pythagoras (who learned his craft in the Alexandrian Temples) existed, and that their knowledge of astronomy and physics might have been superior to our own in many ways. He claims the Egyptians had a completely different consciousness, and could read the symbolism of Nature, and used said symbolism to create a unique writing that is more than merely grammatical.

Schwaller's explanation of his theory of the symbolique is beastly difficult. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but I'm intrigued. The mathematical stuff is absolutely convincing, and given what we now know about the Egyptian's advanced knowledge of the precessional cycle and the dark twin of Sirius and the alignments of their monuments, I don't think there's any doubt that Schwaller was ahead of the curve here.

And yet mainstream Egyptologists dismiss his stuff completely. I enjoy punishing myself with his books, but don't quite "get" them. They read like alchemical texts, which by their nature are supposed to hide true knowledge, reserving it for an elite capable of grasping the Truth (much as the Egyptians kept their "science" to an elite in the Temple). My "Intelligence of the Heart" must be lacking.

1 comment:

ge said...

I'm purty sure that Schwaller also is the force behind the amazing

Dwellings of the Philosophers...

Have you heard of MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT? Symbolism is the thing in common, reading meanings into old handiworks