Illuminatus!, Voegelin, and the politics of SBNR monism

Eric Voegelin

Eric Voegelin, 1901–1985

Ah, the magical connections disclosed by Wikipedia abuse!

I’ve just discovered Eric Voegelin by clicking through to him from the wiki’s Illuminatus! article.

I read Illuminatus! in 1978, and it had a lasting psychoactive effect on me. I was reading its wiki page just now because I keep hearing references to the book by people who weren’t born yet then. Illuminatus! is indescribable, but the wiki describes it as

a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex-, and magic-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both historical and imaginary

The book was written around 1970, and was dismissed as amateurish junk by science fiction readers when it was finally published in 1975. It should have immediately disappeared forever, but apparently it’s going strong four decades later.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Perhaps its prescient postmodernism is why it has aged well? Postmodernism wasn’t yet really a thing in 1975.1 Illuminatus! is more a forerunner; and it has more of the disjointedness of an acid trip, or paranoid-schizophrenic hallucinations, than the elegant re-order of Serious Postmodern Fiction. Serious Fiction is mostly fashionable rubbish, and seems quaint after a decade or two.

So, Eric Voegelin. (This blog post is going to have a point; just you wait and see!)

An improbable re-animation

Friedrich von Schlegel

Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829), founder of German Romanticism

Twenty years ago, if you said that German Romantic Idealism would be the basis for a massive spiritual movement in America, most people would have said: “Wha?”

But the few who knew about German Romantic Idealism would have laughed at you.

It was a philosophical movement. It dominated university philosophy departments in the Nineteenth Century; but by the early Twentieth it was obsolete. In 1990, it was long dead, buried, rotten, and forgotten. The wind and rain had faded the letters on its tombstone to illegibility.

And then corpse rose; and went forth to eat the brains of the unprepared.

Bad ideas from dead Germans

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), founder of Idealist spirituality

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) , founder of Idealist spirituality

Outside of traditional Christianity, most of what counts as religion and “spirituality” in America nowadays is actually recycled German academic philosophy from two hundred years ago. This might sound absurd, or irrelevant. In this metablog series, I hope to show that it is true, and that it matters.

Romantic rebellion

This page is unfinished. It may be a mere placeholder in the book outline. Or, the text below (if any) may be a summary, or a discussion of what the page will say, or a partial or rough draft.

I have a fair amount of text completed, but not a clean version yet. The following is from the 2007 draft of Meaningness. It draws heavily on Camus’ The Rebel.


General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book. Start with an appetizer, or the table of contents. Its “metablog” includes additional essays, not part the book.

Subscribe to new content by email. Click on terms with dotted underlining to read a definition. The book is a work in progress; pages marked ⚒︎ are under construction.