The World is Not a Gnostic Oven

(Soundtrack: Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs — this guy plays Magnapop, ’nuff said!)

Right then–what the hell was Geoff Klock saying about Emerson, a while back? (sure, sure, I know he was actually talking about The New X-Men, more than anything, but give me a break, I haven’t read those yet… I will, I promise you!) Oh yeah–he said this:

Emerson’s Gnosticism is evident in his remarks about his son. He laments that grief (which occurs at the level of the psyche) cannot get him closer to “real nature”; for a Gnostic everything but the pneuma is unreal, including to a large extent other people. Bloom associates the spark with Genius;[5] it is probably best to think of it as the self that is beyond all categories, catalogues of traits, and definitions.

I feel I must object! Not to the linking of Morrison to Emerson (I’ve done that over and over again in this space in the past year–and, in fact, I have tended to discuss both of these artists as defiant anti-gnostics), but to Klock’s particular slant on the “Sage of Concord”. Of course, he’s entitled to his opinion–and, as he points out, he’s got Harold Bloom on his side!–but still, I just don’t recognize this “post-human” Emerson, who sees the world as a “vast prison”! On the contrary, the Emerson I know says things like “let us treat the men and women well; treat them as if they were real: perhaps they are” and he sees every blessed moment that we are granted on this planet as an opportunity to make that leap of faith, while we still have ground to run on. Sure, Emerson declares that he cannot “get [his son’s] death near enough to him”–but the corollary of that lament is, in fact, that other people are so real (not a part of “me”) that, no matter how much we might wish to hold onto them after they are gone, we simply can’t! Emerson is not saying that little Waldo didn’t matter, he’s saying that Waldo was matter. And when the material beings that we love die–or even just withdraw from our lives–it’s a reminder–not a rebuke!–of our absolute dependence upon the world we are called to love. Subjectivity is a means, not an end–there’s no nourishment for the soul in it!

Now, again, I can’t comment on the accuracy of Klock’s assessment of The New X-Men (I’m really going to try to get to the books soon, but my time is very limited these days!), and the interpretaton of Morrison’s Prof X as a gnostic sounds plausible to me…but there’s no way Morrison could possibly be endorsing that philosophy, unless he’s changed more than I think he has since writing Animal Man (not to mention The Filth). What do people think? Have others been writing about this? I’ve been a little out of it!

Good night friends!



  1. Interesting. You’ve caught me in my own gnostic moment, so I’ll think more on all you posted and try and cudgel together a reasonable response.

    Matt Rossi

  2. Morrison could, of course, write a character as a gnostic without endorsing Gnosticism… but it wasn’t Morrison writing Xavier as gnostic, it was Millar in Ultimate X-Men (check LinkmachineGo a few months ago for the Simpsons punch-up between Millar and Morrison), the article was about the Morrison storyline ‘Assault on Weapon Plus’, which the writer was saying was a very Gnostic one…


  3. The U-Men, a villainous group Morrison introduces in his run, are constructed as a quite explicit critique cum parody of Gnosticism, with their hysterical avoidance of this fallen, impure world played for laughs throughout. So I’d say Morrison’s Xavier is unlikely to be a Gnostic himself.

    I believe Eve Tushnet commented on this topic in her review of the run?


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