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Bewildering Stories

The Critics’ Corner

What Is the “Seventh” Ennead?

with Gary Inbinder

Floozman in Space, chapter 13, the Seventh Ennead, begins in issue 639.

The Ennead references the metaphysical writings of the 3rd century A.D. Egypto-Roman philosopher, Plotinus. The Enneads of Plotinus is comprised of six volumes; therefore, Bertrand Cayzac implies something beyond Plotinus in his reference to a “seventh.”

That “Seventh” Ennead might refer to Gnosticism, a term applied to the mystery religions criticized by both the Platonists, such as Plotinus, and early Christian theologians, such as Augustine.

Cayzac summarizes Plotinus’s metaphysical system commonly referred to as Neo-Platonism:

The intensity of light in the sky blazes all his imaginal senses. And yet, he distinguishes gradations and subtle diffractions without being able to measure them. All these silky movements palpitate and spawn living patterns in their folds, where shadows give birth to color. Sheaves of light shroud and pervade them like a heady breath air he might have always breathed. Where does he get this calm confidence if not from the sky of the recovered homeland?

“The Intellect?”

“Yes. There is the One-Good who is unborn, neither finite nor infinite who begets out of pure generosity, for what is perfect cannot do otherwise. Attached to him is the Intellect, where forms and numbers are.

“Then there is the World Soul, one and many at the same time. Finally, radically out of everything, is mere matter. Souls avid for power project themselves in it and take shape for as long as a reflection lasts. We are among those souls, Stuart, but we have the good luck to come close to the hypostasis’ higher layers.

The One is the “undifferentiated divine out of whose being the other elements of reality are derived by emanations.” The initial emanation is the nous, or Intelligence. The second emanation is the World Soul.

Lorenzo de Medici: The Renaissance sparked a revival of interest in pre-Christian metaphysics, especially Neo-Platonism. Savonarola’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” was an orthodox reaction to the Medici’s neo-paganism. However, when Savonarola crossed a line, the Florentines hanged and burned him along with two of his Dominican associates in the same square in which the monks had burned valuable artwork and books.

What does all this have to do with Floozman? The role of the number seven in Gnostic mysticism might explain the roles of Jenny Appleseed, Janatone, the Cosmigirls, etc.

There are seven quasi-evil, quasi-hostile world-creating powers, or angels, which are the last emanations of God. The Magna Mater — the Great Mother or Goddess of Heaven, also known as Sophia — gives birth to the seven powers of darkness in the material world. However, the Primal Man, pre-existing the world, comes into the world to wage war on darkness.

The number seven and the Seventh Ennead. Now, that’s all perfectly clear... isn’t it? Floozman in Space appears to combine elements of Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism and perhaps even Mithraism, not to mention modern ontologies and existential philosophies.

I’d say Floozman throws lots of intellectual spaghetti at the literary wall to see what sticks. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying the read.

Copyright © 2015 by Gary Inbinder

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