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The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Three: On…

The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Three: On Plato, the Fourth Dimension, and… (2016)

by Timothy James Lambert

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Received a complimentary copy from the author (via LibraryThing).

This third entry in Lambert's Notebooks opens with an intriguing discussion of Dali's Crucifixion, and proceeds into a giddy survey of hypercubes, dimensionality, Cartesian coordinates, and Platonic solids ("speculative geometry"). Lambert then holds up for examination, over the next nine chapters and 140-odd pages, his speculations concerning an ancient system used to transmit sacred mysteries over time, intact and encrypted. Lambert posits a "conspiracy" in which Plato endeavoured to preserve while yet hiding these mysteries, a grand feat of steganography in that Plato's writings are widely considered important enough to preserve (by those ignorant of the mysteries), thereby enabling the encrypted content to survive undetected. [26, 38-41]

Note that Lambert examines in this volume, the hidden system for encryption, and not (with one exception discussed briefly below) the mysteries allegedly encrypted by application of this system.

Lambert's argument in this third notebook is vastly more ambitious than those of the previous notebooks, and that much more open to critique. My skepticism falls under two broad heads. First, it seems far less likely for a single system to employ multiple keys, yet be understood by a single group of people and be utilised for a single coherent purpose; than it is for the various texts examined (Gospel of Thomas, Creation Story in Genesis, Plato's Timaeus) to have been encrypted by varying people, at different times and for varying purposes, mostly if not wholly ignorant of one another. (If in fact, any or some of these texts are encrypted at all, though on this count I'm less skeptical.) Second, Lambert's method is not verifiable in the manner that, for example, Reed's decryption of the Steganographia was verifiable. Here, no comparable messages are revealed which are self-evidently genuine. The closest candidate Lambert offers is the suggestion that the Genesis creation story can be read as an encrypted analogue of the current scientific account of biological evolution on Earth. Even this, though, is not verifiable: he does not uncover a literal and specific message, precisely what an encryption system is designed to transmit. Rather, Lambert argues one logical structure has been recast in terms of another structure, that an analogue is to be found.

In view of all this, Lambert's notebooks continue to hold my attention insofar as they introduce fascinating concepts, uncover historical archives, track ideas he finds curious or interesting, and draw intriguing connections between ideas and interpretations I'm exceedingly unlikely to do on my own. I am persuaded that many of the parallels and connections Lambert makes are more than coincidence, that something is there. Lambert's notebooks are invaluable for these reasons, and their publication offers an opportunity to widen the conversation, precisely the rationale for a conceptual notebook.


Keys examined:
1 - close packed spheres / structures (Democritus)
2 - tree of life / zodiacal sign / days of week
3 - Euclidean geometry / dimensions / Platonic solids
4 - Genesis creation myth / Evolutionary ladder (lifeforms from bacteria, etc)
5 - I Ching trigrams & hexagrams ( )
4 vote elenchus | Oct 5, 2016 |
Reviewed on the basis of a complimentary copy received from the author. (Nevertheless, this review contains only my usual biases.)

In this third volume of Timothy James Lambert's Gnostic Notebook, I was pleasantly surprised to find him executing a version of a project I had contemplated undertaking myself some years ago. To wit: He revisits the theory of matter from Plato's Timaeus and relates it to the ideas of Buckminster Fuller's Synergetics (particularly the closest-packing of spheres and consequent formation of polyhedra), all viewed under the influence of esoteric correspondences. Oddly, Lambert doesn't credit Fuller's work with closest-packing of spheres, although he does use an evocative quote from Critical Path to illustrate one of the correspondences that he asserts.

Most of Lambert's text is concerned to ground these ideas in an unlikely textual synthesis of the Genesis creation account and the I Ching. He admits on his final page that he hasn't provided any narrative to support his claim that the authors of Genesis had the I Ching at their disposal as a key for coding ideas, but he says he'll be picking up this thread in a later volume. Another tease for future work is the promise (150) that the next book will undertake a reading of the I Ching as chiefly concerned with enlightened human procreation, which would perhaps capitalize on the occasional broad hints at sexual symbolism in volumes II and III of the series so far.

Throughout the book, Lambert intuits and adduces a multi-layered system of correspondences which he insists are "falsifiable" and inductively robust. I didn't have trouble maintaining my skepticism toward them, however. One point of especial weakness was his "correction" of the traditional meanings of two of the I Ching trigrams on the basis of relationships within a hypothetical octahedron with planetary attributions to the vertices (in turn corresponding to yin and yang hexagram lines). It's ironic that he takes this revision to indicate the utility of his theory here, as well as suggesting that Hakuin Ekaku (an 18th-century Zen master) composed the "one hand clapping" koan specifically to serve as a clue to this supposed secret (132-5).

There is constant reference to an astrological diagram, "an image which I call the tree of life" (76, fig. 69), which is not the Etz Chaim of the qabalah. It has the planets in a central column, ranging from Earth at the bottom, up through the days of the week from Sol (Sunday) to Saturn (Saturday). While this arrangement is useful for his exposition of the Genesis creation story, he makes an unjustified pivot at the book's end to assert that it maps on to the sat chakras of esoteric human anatomy. The result is one that I personally consider "falsified" on the basis of esoteric instruction I've received, as well as my personal practice.

Despite the "Fourth Dimension" in the title and some discussion in the early parts of the book, there was disappointingly little hypergeometry here. And while Lambert has promised to revisit Salvador Dali's Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), he intends to do so in the context of the Platonic-Christian connection, rather than that of hypergeometry. This volume was as long as the previous two put together, but held my attention less efficiently. Perhaps a more magisterial tone would better suit the material than Lambert's chatty exploratory approach? Yet these are a titled as a "Notebook," and the style reflects that: a tentative groping on the page for the content that will deserve to be summed up in the exposition of a "divine system."
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Aug 3, 2016 |
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