In Westworld (S01E10, “The Bicameral Mind”), Dr. Robert Ford explains to Dolores, one of the hosts (or artificial human occupants of the American Frontier-themed park) a secret in Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam: “You were right, Dolores, Michelangelo did tell a lie. See, it took 500 years for someone to notice something hidden in plain sight,” Ford says, tracing his finger around God, reaching out to Adam, and the silhouette surrounding him. “It was a doctor who noticed the shape of the human brain. The message being that: the divine gift does not come from a higher power, but from our own minds.”
Were I to review Terry Eagleton’s Radical Sacrifice, I would recommend it unequivocally. Though Eagleton and I may not see eye to eye in all things (and I would have it no other way; how else would I learn?), this latest addition to his bibliography is well worth the time of any reader interested in revolutionary politics, ideology, or even the Christian narrative itself. Rather than evaluate the merits of Eagleton’s work, I’ve instead experienced it for myself; and in lieu of a review, I have instead opted to share a stream of insights I gained from reading Radical Sacrifice.
I’ve recently found myself fascinated with the surviving fragments of Heraclitus and his philosophy, especially what he has to say about what we may call religious expression. What follows is a brief exploration of his ideas and an application to religion generally, especially my own native Mormonism.
I recently happened on an old book I’d encountered before: Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. The first time around, I didn’t know what to make of it; now, after some reflection, I think Freud was a poor historian, and likely a poor therapist (at least as psychoanalysis’ “version 1.0”), but I think he had moments of intrigue—Moses and Monotheism, I’d now say, was one of them.
I pre-ordered Harold Bloom's latest book, Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism, months ago and had completely forgotten it was coming out today. Thanks to a quick email, I realized it was now waiting for me on my Kindle bookshelf. I can't overstate how excited I am to finally read this.
For the past few months, I’ve been ruminating on King Lear, a play I had previously never seen before. I had the opportunity to watch Ian McKellen play Lear on 27 September 2018, broadcast by the National Theatre Live. Shortly thereafter, I watched Anthony Hopkins’ own performance in Amazon’s recent adaptation. And shortly after that, I read the Yale Annotated Edition of King Lear, with an essay by Harold Bloom at the end. Since that late September, I’ve been fascinated, maybe even a touch obsessed with this piece and its titular figure. With some effort, I’d like to see if I can express what King Lear has evoked in and elicited from me over the past four months.
I’ve known about Harold Bloom since I first read The American Religion (1992, 2013) in 2015, but about two months ago I discovered for the first time what may be called (despite Bloom’s own wishes) the spiritual successor to that previous book: Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (1997). In reading Omens, I was captivated afresh with a topic that I had known about since I was a teenager, but which Bloom himself seemed to capture and articulate in ways I never could: namely, the ancient spiritual traditions collectively known as Gnosticism. Instantly intrigued, I devoured Omens, reread American Religion, and set out for more books by Bloom (I’ve attached a list of suggested reading to the end of this post, in fact).