OLIVE CHANCELLOR, the bluestocking feminist in Henry James’s The Bostonians, is a classic gnostic, if one draws on the definition of Eric Voegelin. “It was the usual things of life that filled her with silent rage; which was natural enough, inasmuch as, to her vision, almost everything that was usual was iniquitous.” Olive dreams of martyrdom and, as Thomas Bertonneau pointed out in the previous thread, she appears to view herself as a descendent of Hypatia, the Neo-Platonist scholar in early fifth century A.D., whom a Christian mob murdered during the burning of the famous Musaeon, or Library, at Alexandria. The gnostic is radically dissatisfied with the world at large and nevertheless retains hope that it can be changed. If that means going down in flames, as Olive does in her own way, that is the price to pay.
Lawrence Auster writes:
Your summation of the six characteristics of the gnostic is good. I am excited to see people picking up on the recent discussions and trying to bring gnosticism into ordinary usage as an accessible concept and analytical tool which can help us understand so many contemporary belief systems.
Read More »