Albert Camus, Metaphysical Revolt, Gnosticism and Modern Cinema

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Groningen

Abstract

In The Rebel (1951) Albert Camus assigns ancient Gnosticism an important place in the history of human revolt. In his interpretation, Gnostics incarnate the spirit of proud rebellion and protest against a God deemed responsible for human suffering and death. For Camus these are the roots of metaphysical rebellion in Western history that, beginning in the eighteenth century, culminated in the fascist and socialist utopian experiments in the twentieth century. After assessing Camus’s view of Gnosticism, this article claims that modern cinema shows the impact of The Rebel on the way several recent films conceive of their rebellious protagonists. The controlled character of the revolts they promote shows that modern cinema follows Gnosticism in their analysis both the modern sentiments of alienation in contemporary society and the ways to break free in order to attain a life worthy of its name.

  • Barton, Kimberly. 2006. “Revolution in the Matrix. A Cue Call for Reflexive Sociology.” Pages 5372 in The Matrix in Theory. Edited by Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz and Stefan Herbrechter. Critical Studies. Amsterdam: Brill Academic Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bassler, O. Bradley. 2017. “An Introduction to Philosophia Perennis (Level of Work on Myth and Philosophy: Level 5).” Pages 131152 in Diagnosing Contemporary Philosophy with the Matrix Movies. Edited by O. Bradley Bassler. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi:10.1057/978–1-137–57889–1_7.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berman, A. S. 2018. Cube: Inside the Making of a Cult Film Classic. Albany, GA: BearManor Media.

  • Blackmore, Tim. 2004. “High on Technology; Low on Memory: Cultural Crisis in Dark City and The Matrix.” Canadian Review of American Studies 34(1): 1354.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Broek, Van den, Roelof. 2013. Gnostic Religion in Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Camus, Albert. 1991 [1951]. The Rebel. An Essay on Man in Revolt. Translated by Anthony Bower. New York: Vintage International.

  • Camus, Albert. 2007. Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. Translated by Ronald D. Srigley. Missouri: Missouri University Press.

  • Couliano, Ioan. 1984. “The Gnostic Revenge: Gnosticism and Romantic Literature.” Pages 290306 in Religionstheorie und Politische Theologie. Band 2: Gnosis und Politik. Edited by Jacob Taubes. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Couliano, Ioan. 1992. The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism. Translated by H. S. Wiesner and the author. New York: HarperCollins.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeConick, April D. 2013. “Crafting Gnosis: Gnostic Spirituality in the Ancient New Age.” Pages 285305 in Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner. Edited by Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 82. Leiden: Brill.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeConick, April D. 2016. “The Countercultural Gnostic: Turning the World Upside Down and Inside Out.” Gnosis 1: 735.

  • Eco, Umberto, Stefan Collini, Jonathan Culler, Richard Rorty, and Christine Brooke-Rose. 1992. Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Elsas, Christoph. 1990. “Argumente zur Ablehnung des Herrscherkults in jüdischer und gnostischer Tradition.” Pages 269281 in Loyalitätskonflikte in der Religionsgeschichte. Festschrift für Carsten Colpe. Edited by Cristoph Elsas, Hans Gerhard Kippenberg, et al. Würzburg: Könighausen & Neumann.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Falzon, Chris. 2006. “The Matrix and Philosophy.” Pages 97111 in The Matrix in Theory. Edited by Myriam Diocarez and Stefan Herbrechter. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Faye, Eugène de. 1925. Gnostiques Et Gnosticisme: Étude Critique Des Documents Du Gnosticisme Chrétien Aux Iie Et Iiie Siècles. 2nd éd., augmentée. Edited by P. Geuthner.

  • Filoramo, Giovani. 1990. A History of Gnosticism. Cambridge: Blackwell Publications.

  • Flannery-Dailey, Frances, and Rachel Wagner. December 15, 2016. “Wake up! Gnosticism and Buddhism in The Matrix.” Journal of Religion & Film 5(no. 2). https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol5/iss2/4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Foley, John. 2008. Albert Camus. From the Absurd to Revolt. Stocksfield: Acumen.

  • Freedman, Carl. 2016. “Utopianism and Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer.” Science Fiction Film and Television 9(1): 8486.

  • García Gual, Carlos. 1981. Epicuro. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.

  • Gerlach, Neil, and Sheryl Hamilton. 2004. “Preserving the Self in the City of the Imagination: Georg Simmel and Dark City.” Canadian Review of American Studies 34(2): 115134.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grenier, Pascal, Yves Beauregard, and Élie Castiel. 2014. “Snowpiercer: À Fond De Train.” Séquences 292: 62.

  • Grimstad, Kirsten. 2002. The Modern Revival of Gnosticism and Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus. Rochester, NY: Camden House.

  • Harnack, Adolf von. 1921. Marcion: Das Evangelium vom frenden Gott. Eine Monographie zur Geschichte der Grundlegung der katolischen Kirche. Leipzig: Hinrichs.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hughes, Edward J. 2007. The Cambridge Companion to Camus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Inwood, Brad and L. P. Gerson. 1994. The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia. Indianapolis: Hackett.

  • Jonas, Hans. 2001. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and​ the Beginnings of Christianity. 3rd ed. Boston: Beacon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jung, Carl Gustav. 1923. Psychological Types. Translated by H. G. Baynes. London: Kegan Paul & New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

  • Kinzig, Wolfram. 2004. Harnack, Marcion und das Judentum nebst einer kommentierten Edition des Briefwechsels Adolf von Harnacks mit Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlaganstalt.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kippenberg, Hans. 1979. “Versuch einer soziologischen Verortung des antiken Gnostizismus.” Numen 17(3): 211232.

  • Knapp, Charles. 1992. “Lucretius in Praise of Epicurus.” The Phi Beta Kappa Key 4(11): 655658.

  • Knight, Deborah, and George McKnight. 2002. “Real Genre and Virtual Philosophy.” Pages 188201 in The Matrix and Philosophy. Edited by William Irwin. Chicago and La Salle: Open Court.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Konstan, David. 2011. “Epicurus on the Gods”. Pages 5371 in Epicurus and the Epicurean Tradition. Edited by Jeffrey Fish and Kirk R. Sanders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kunkle, Sheila. 2000. “Lacan’s Life, the Universe, and Vincenzo Natali’s ‘Cube.’American Imago 57(3): 281297.

  • Kwiatkowski, Fryderyk. 2017. “How To Attain Liberation From a False World? The Gnostic Myth of Sophia in Dark City (1998).” Journal of Religion and Film 21: 133.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. 2006. Gnostic Revisions of Genesis Stories and Early Jesus Traditions. Leiden: Brill.

  • May, Gerhard. 1988. “Marcion in Contemporary Views: Results and Open Questions.” SecCent 6(3): 129151.

  • Otto, Walter Friedrich. 1963. Die Wirklichkeit Der Götter: Von Der Unzerstörbarkeit Griechischer Weltsicht. Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pearson, Birger A. 1990. Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pettigrew, I. 2016. “Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-Ho (Review).” Science Fiction Film and Television 9(1): 150153.

  • Porton, Richard. 1998. “The Truman Show by Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, Adam Schroeder and Peter Weir.” Cinéaste 23: 4849.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roig Lanzillotta, Lautaro. 2018a. “Dialogue in the Library: Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘The Circular Ruins’ and His Re-reading of Gnostic Myths.” Gnosis 3(2): 201224.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roig Lanzillotta, Lautaro. 2018b. “Ancient Greek Patterns of Knowledge Transmission and their Continuity in Gnostic Esotericism.” Pages 121144 in Sharing and Hiding Religious Knowledge in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Edited by Mladen Popovic, Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, and Clare Wilde. Berlin: De Gruyter.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rudolph, Kurt. 1987. Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

  • Sherman, David. 2009. Camus. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Srigley, Ronald. 2003. “Eric Voegelin’s Camus: The Limitations of Greek Myth in The Rebel.” Paper presented at the meeting of the Eric Voegelin Society, the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia.

  • Srigley, Ronald. 2011. Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity. Missouri: University of Missouri Press.

  • Strick, Philip. 1998. “Cube.” Sight and Sound 8(11): 44.

  • Stroumsa, Guy. 1995. “From Esotericism to Mysticism in Early Christianity.” Pages 289309 in Secrecy and Concealment: Studies in the History of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions. Edited by Hans Kippenberg and Guy Stroumsa. Leiden: Brill.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stroumsa, Guy. 1996. Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism. Leiden: Brill.

  • Verarde, Randall. 2000. “Suspicion, the Seed of Awakening: The Truman Show as Gnostic Fairy Tale.” The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal 19: 3749.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Voegelin, Eric. 1990. Anamnesis. Translated by Gerhart Niemeyer. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press.

  • Williams, Michael. 1996. Rethinking “Gnosticism”: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, Eric. 2006. “Gnostic Paranoia in Proyas’s Dark City.” Literature-Film Quarterly 34(3): 232239.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 92 92 12
Full Text Views 7 7 1
PDF Downloads 4 4 1