Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

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Ken Olson
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Ken Olson » Wed May 06, 2020 10:56 pm

or What George Smiley Taught Me About Secret Mark: Lessons From John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a classic 1974 espionage novel by John Le Carre (the pen name of David Cornwell), which has been made into a good movie starring Gary Oldman (2011) and an excellent miniseries starring Alec Guinness (1979). Cornwell is a former agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) himself and his novels are far more realistic (or, if you prefer, have more verisimilitude), than Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, let alone the Bond movies. Anyway, if you haven't read or watched it, you should.

The plot was inspired by the historical Cambridge Five spy ring, which included a top level MI-6 agent who was a mole passing secrets to the Russians. In the novel, a forcibly retired former agent named George Smiley is brought in by a government minister to try to uncover who among the top level agents of the Service (who are given the code names Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, etc.) is a mole working for the Russians.

There a number of gems in the book.

In one place, Smiley is asked for his opinion on a file containing a Soviet internal review of their naval capabilities, which is something the Service has been after, and has now come into their hands from a mysterious source. Smiley comments (in the TV version):
Its topicality makes it suspect
In another place, Smiley muses on why it's so difficult to convince his fellows that some of the intelligence they've been receiving from the same source is actually being fed to them by the Russians:
Have you ever bought a fake picture? … The more you pay for it, the less inclined you are to doubt it. Silly, but there we are.
In a long passage, Smiley is reading over a personnel file concerning two of the Service's agents, Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux. The file contains an old letter from Haydon to a man named Fanshawe (addressing him as “Fan,” which suggests they had a warm relationship), who was his tutor (i.e., the talent spotter from the Service who had recruited him), recommending that he also recruit his new friend Prideaux. In the course of praising Prideaux, Haydon says a few things that could perhaps be taken to suggest the two were more than just friends:
he's only just noticed that there is a World Beyond the Touchline, and that world is me.

He's my other half, between us we'd make one marvelous man … you know that feeling when you just have to go out and find someone new or the world will die on you?

he asks nothing better than to be in my company and that of my wicked, divine friends.
Nothing explicit, but as Smiley turns the pages in the file he finds:
The tutors of the two men aver (twenty years later) that it is inconceivable that the relationship between the two was 'more than purely friendly' …
Why does John Le Carre, the author, add the note from the two men's tutors that it was *inconceivable* that their relationship was 'more than purely friendly' immediately after the text of Haydon's letter about Prideaux? Was Le Carre concerned that his readers might take some of Haydon's fulsome praise of Prideaux as suggesting there was a homosexual attraction between the two, and wished to allay that suspicion? If so, it backfires spectacularly.

Readers are much more likely to wonder why it was necessary for the tutors to report that the relationship between Haydon and Prideaux was definitely not homosexual in nature. The report gives the readers a context in which to understand the contents of the letter. If they had suspected there was something homoerotic in the contents of Haydon's letter before, their suspicions are only going to be heightened by the denial in the report, and if they hadn't picked that up from the contents of the letter, they probably will after seeing the appended note.

It seems more likely that Le Carre, a gifted writer, knew perfectly well what effect the appended note from the men's tutors would have on his readers and included it for that reason. It's a literary device. (Well, Okay, Le Carre has talked about how he conceived the homosexual relationship between Haydon and Prideaux in interviews, so that part is not really in dispute. What I'm discussing is the literary technique he used to reveal it to his readers).

Inception: How to Put an Idea in Someone's Head

What device or technique is this? In rhetorical terms, it might be considered a particular form of preterition, in which someone emphasizes an idea by pretending to pass over it (“I intend to stick strictly to the issues and will not discuss the multiple allegations of sexual assault against my opponent”). In psychological terms, it might be considered a form of reverse psychology, but it's also related to the phenomenon called ironic process theory, ironic rebound, or “the white bear problem.” The latter goes back at least to 1863, when Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.”

In psychology and hypnosis this is called negative suggestion. Negative suggestion does not work, or works in reverse. The famous example is “Don't think of a (color) elephant.” Google it. There are a lot of web pages on the topic (leave aside George Lakoff's 2004 book, which uses elephant in the specific sense of Republican). Here's a passage taken from one such page:
If I tell you, “Don't think of a blue elephant, what happens? You think of a blue elephant, of course! (If you don't, check your pulse. You may be dead.)
http://www.hypnosis-corvallis.com/dont- ... -negative/

Probably the best known application of this principle is the movie Inception (2010), about a team of criminals led by Leonardo DiCaprio who are recruited by businessman Ken Watanabe to plant an idea in the mind of the heir to a rival major corporation to dissolve his empire.
DiCaprio: What do you want from us?

Watanabe: Inception. Is it possible?

Gordon-Levitt: Of course not.

Watanabe: If you can steal an idea from someone's mind, why can't you plant one there instead?

Gordon-Levitt: Okay. Here's me planting an idea in your head. I say to you: “Don't think about elephants.” What are you thinking about?

Watanabe: Elephants.

Gordon-Levitt: Right, but it's not your idea because you know I gave it to you. The subject's mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.

DiCaprio: That's not true.
The problem that DiCaprio's team have to solve is: how do you implant an idea in someone's head without them realizing you had implanted the idea in their head? DiCaprio tells the team: “We need a forger,” and meets with Tom Hardy to bring him on board.
DiCaprio: Have you done it before?

Hardy: We tried it. We got the idea in place. But it didn't take.

DiCaprio: You didn't plant it deep enough?

Hardy: No. It's not just about depth, you know. You need the simplest version of the idea for it to grow naturally in your subject's mind. It's a very subtle art.
DiCaprio, Hardy, and the rest of the team hold a planning session to discuss how to do this.
DiCaprio: “I will split up my father's empire.” Now this is obviously an idea that Robert himself would choose to reject, which is why we need to plant it deep in his subconscious.
They decide instead to plant three suggestions that will lead him to the desired conclusion.
Hardy: I will not follow in my father's footsteps.

Hardy: I will create something for myself.

DiCaprio: My father doesn't want me to be him.
Implanting the Idea of a Gay Jesus

So if you wanted to write a text that would implant the suggestion that Jesus was homosexual in your readers, how might you go about it?

First, you won't directly tell your reader that Jesus was homosexual, just as John Le Carre did not tell his readers that Haydon and Prideaux had had a homosexual relationship and DiCaprio's team does not try to implant the suggestion “I will break up my father's empire.” They implant other suggestions which will lead the subject to reach that conclusion.

Second, you provide an ambiguous text, like Haydon's letter to Fanshawe in Tinker Tailor that, by itself, would not necessarily imply homosexuality, thought it may seem to suggest it. One way to do this is to provide them a story based on one familiar to them. The story of Lazarus from John's gospel will do, and may have suggested itself because we are told twice that Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11.3, 36). You can't say anything explicitly homosexual, but you can borrow phrases and clauses from Mark that do not have a sexual connotation in their original context, but might take on such a connotation when placed together in a new context, such as Mark 5.18 (“begged him that he might be with him”); 10.21 (“looking upon him loved him”); 14.51-52 (“a young man ... wearing nothing but a linen cloth,” though, perhaps, more literally “a youth … with a linen cloth thrown around his naked body”).

Third, you plant negative suggestions in another voice that will tell the reader how to read the ambiguous text, or rather, how not to read it. This is what Le Carre did with the note from Haydon and Prideaux's tutor that it was *inconceivable* that their relationship was more than purely friendly. He provided a context in which Haydon's letter could be understood. So you can place an extended injunction on how you should definitely not to read the ambiguous text (not in a carnal and sinful way) before presenting the text itself and then following it with an emphatic but graphic negative suggestion, such as “'naked man with naked man' is not found,” which will inevitably bring the image of naked men with naked men into their minds in the same way that the command not to think of elephants will make them think of elephants.

Fourth, you need a legend (a Le Carre term, basically a cover identity or cover story), to explain to the reader where this new story is coming from, why they haven't heard it before, and why on earth they ought to believe it. This is relatively straightforward (e.g., a secret gospel not intended for the public, but with the authority of a canonical evangelist behind it).

Fifth, you need to suggest a possible alternative interpretation as a diversion from the conclusion you actually wish to implant, because if your conclusion is the only possible conclusion, it is once again too obvious and will raise the readers defenses. The alternative suggestion has to appear plausible, but it can't be so strong as to completely overpower the conclusion you desire the readers to reach. Having a final line that promises to give the true interpretation of the text, but then breaks off as though the text was damaged at precisely the point where the other possible interpretation was about to be given may be a bit clumsy, but it might serve.

This won't work the same on on everyone. Some might be so hostile to the suggestion that Jesus was homosexual that they will reject it even though they accept the ambiguous text and see the suggestion. Others will speculate on what the other interpretation is and adopt it as the correct reading. Some might suspect that this was all an effort to plant some such suggestion in their heads. But some will adopt it wholeheartedly.

Best,

Ken

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JoeWallack
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Do What You Have To Do But Do It Quickly

Post by JoeWallack » Thu May 07, 2020 5:46 am

It's better to be entertaining than skeptical

JW:
If only we had evidence that Hannibal Lechner sneaked away during a dinner party at Morton Smith's (featuring salted fish sticks) and in the library found a pink book Mark on page 69 of The White Bear (think about that).

While I don't especially enjoy agreeing with Secret Agent Man, we probably do agree here that your post is better evidence for forgery than anything in Carlson's God-awful book. But that says more about the book than your post.

What are Gospels mostly Ken? They are mostly literary technique. That is what you are describing. So not only can you not exorcise Gospel authors as suspects, they are high on the list. Morton Smith? What is the evidence that he was proficient in that type of literary technique? In Greek?

Sure, he who hold it, may have wrote it. But you need more than that. Things are always found by someone.

Anyway, thanks for the post. Very entertaining (and not in the way the Vampire says to Roddy McDowell in the classic Fright Night when asked how he likes his related TV show).


Joseph

Skeptical Textual Criticism

Ken Olson
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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Ken Olson » Thu May 07, 2020 7:02 am

Joe Wallack wrote:
What are Gospels mostly Ken? They are mostly literary technique. That is what you are describing. So not only can you not exorcise Gospel authors as suspects, they are high on the list. Morton Smith? What is the evidence that he was proficient in that type of literary technique? In Greek?
If you read my post very, very, carefully, Joe, you might notice that I don't mention Morton Smith at all and don't accuse him of anything.

In the other thread I wrote:
I think I have good reason to to be suspicious of the text's self-representation.
In this thread, I'm drawing attention to how the text actually works, as opposed to the way it presents itself. It succeeds very well in implanting the idea of a homosexual Jesus in its readers' heads. In the text's self-representation this is a coincidental effect of (1) a non-homosexual text of Mark which has a potentially homosexual meaning; and (2) a Clement who wants to tell us the real meaning of this text of Mark and oppose the homosexual reading, but fails to to the first and instead reveals the potential homosexual message of the text that he allegedly wants to combat; and this is due to (3) an accident of preservation which preserved the potentially homosexual text and the suggestion that it can be read to imply homosexuality, but fails to preserve the theoretical real meaning of the text.

What I'm suggesting is that the way these three elements actually work together quite well to suggest a homosexual Jesus may be a better indicator of the intentions of the author of this text, whoever that might have been, than the text's self-representation suggests. The unity of message suggests to me that we may be dealing with a single author rather than two authors and an accident of preservation.

It would be really nice if you and Secret Alias would stop pretending that you can read my mind, but I'm afraid that's too much to expect.

Best,

Ken

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Secret Alias
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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Secret Alias » Thu May 07, 2020 7:29 am

Ken, can you point to a time when homosexuality didn't exist or didn't have an influence on writers, artists, creative people? This is not a concession that Secret Mark or the letter to Theodore is about homosexuality. I am simply addressing your rather naive assumptions about homosexuality and writing, acting or doing anything other than bricklaying and manual labor. Most creative people are gay. I work in the entertainment field. I have traveled the world with performers - many of whom are gay. Even in countries where homosexuality is outlawed with the threat of severe punishment most of the creative people are homosexual and they gather together sometimes for sex but also to bounce ideas off of one another and generally 'be creative.' It comes natural to them. That's why a lot of the best books, movies and likely even religions were started by gay people. The reason our writing and thinking is relegated to forums like this and academic journals (which don't pay any money at all) is that we lack the creativity that comes natural to homosexuals. Straight = boring. Even Epiphanius attended orgies.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Secret Alias » Thu May 07, 2020 8:13 am

Let's look at Origen's interpretation of the story of David and Jonathan is any different than Clement's of Secret Mark. First the pertinent parts of the Book of Samuel:
1And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his apparel, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
40And Jonathan gave his weapons unto his lad, and said unto him: 'Go, carry them to the city.' 41And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the South, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times; and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. 42Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of HaShem, saying: ‘HaShem shall be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed, for ever.’3 [1 Sam. 20:40-42]
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him: 'Thou son of perverse rebellion, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own shame, and unto the shame of thy mother's nakedness?
22From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. 23Saul and Jonathan, the lovely and the pleasant in their lives, even in their death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 24Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel. 25How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan upon thy high places is slain! 26I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant hast thou been unto me; wonderful was thy love to me, passing the love of women. 27How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! [2 Sam. 1:22-27]
In this passage, the explanation of Jonathan by David as lovely is worth noting, but the real key component is verse 26,“wonderful was they love to me, passing the love of women.” This particular phrase is the main reason why people read into this relationship homoeroticism.

Then Origen addresses writes a letter to a man named Theodore and like Clement he seems to be attempting to introduce to him his own ideas about Christianity. Origen's Theodore is a new initiate to Christianity and once he undergoes the initiation into the mysteries of the Alexandrian religion he curiously chooses to describe his experiences in terms of the homoerotic language of the narrative of David and Jonathan:
And thus, like some spark lighting upon our inmost soul, love was kindled and burst into flame within us — a love at once to the Holy Word, the most lovely object of all, who attracts all irresistibly toward Himself by His unutterable beauty, and to this man, His friend and advocate. And being most mightily smitten by this love, I was persuaded to give up all those objects or pursuits which seem to us befitting, and among others even my boasted jurisprudence — yea, my very fatherland and friends, both those who were present with me then, and those from whom I had parted. And in my estimation there arose but one object dear and worth desire — to wit, philosophy, and that master of philosophy, this inspired man. And the soul of Jonathan was knit with David. 1 Samuel 18:1 This word, indeed, I did not read till afterwards in the sacred Scriptures; but I felt it before that time, not less clearly than it is written: for, in truth, it reached me then by the clearest of all revelations. For it was not simply Jonathan that was knit with David; but those things were knit together which are the ruling powers in man — their souls — those objects which, even though all the things which are apparent and ostensible in man are severed, cannot by any skill be forced to a severance when they themselves are unwilling. For the soul is free, and cannot be coerced by any means, not even though one should confine it and keep guard over it in some secret prison-house. For wherever the intelligence is, there it is also of its own nature and by the first reason. And if it seems to you to be in a kind of prison-house, it is represented as there to you by a sort of second reason. But for all that, it is by no means precluded from subsisting anywhere according to its own determination; nay, rather it is both able to be, and is reasonably believed to be, there alone and altogether, wheresoever and in connection with whatever things those actions which are proper only to it are in operation. Wherefore, what I experienced has been most clearly declared in this very short statement, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David; objects which, as I said, cannot by any means be forced to a separation against their will, and which of their own inclination certainly will not readily choose it. Nor is it, in my opinion, in the inferior subject, who is changeful and very prone to vary in purpose, and in whom singly there has been no capacity of union at first, that the power of loosing the sacred bonds of this affection rests, but rather in the nobler one, who is constant and not readily shaken, and through whom it has been possible to the these bonds and to fasten this sacred knot. Therefore it is not the soul of David that was knit by the divine word with the soul of Jonathan; but, on the contrary, the soul of the latter, who was the inferior, is said to be thus affected and knit with the soul of David. For the nobler object would not choose to be knit with one inferior, inasmuch as it is sufficient for itself; but the inferior object, as standing in need of the help which the nobler can give, ought properly to be knit with the nobler, and fitted dependently to it: so that this latter, retaining still its sufficiency in itself, might sustain no loss by its connection with the inferior; and that that which is of itself without order being now united and fitted harmoniously with the nobler, might, without any detriment done, be perfectly subdued to the nobler by the constraints of such bonds. Wherefore, to apply the bonds is the part of the superior, and not of the inferior; but to be knit to the other is the part of the inferior, and this too in such a manner that it shall possess no power of loosing itself from these bonds. And by a similar constraint, then, did this David of ours once gird us to himself; and he holds us now, and has held us ever since that time, so that, even though we desired it, we could not loose ourselves from his bonds. And hence it follows that, even though we were to depart, he would not release this soul of mine, which, as the Holy Scripture puts it, he holds knit so closely with himself.
Two Alexandrian Church Fathers from the same age addressing two letters to a guy named Theodore which introduce Christianity where homoeroticism is at the core of the message. And you guys see Clement's letter to Theodore as modern because of the 'gay thing.' What about Origen's correspondences with Theodore? I am sorry but you guys prove time and again that you truly are Americans ...

There is nothing that anyone is ever going to say or prove that dissuades you from your naive little world built from one part lack of worldly experience and another part arrogance. Again I repeat - two Alexandrian Church Fathers addressing a presumably guy named Theodore who wants to come over to Christianity where the appeal is made with homoerotic Biblical references and what do you say? Morton Smith is a forger. It's no different than the American pandemic response. One part ignorance, another part arrogance.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Secret Alias » Thu May 07, 2020 8:55 am

And again, I don't have to PROVE that the letter is authentic. I just need to remind you that you have no grounds for banning the discovery based on mere speculation. I too can develop speculation. Let the readers here decide which speculation is more viable.

You might ask 'what evidence is there for Origen's Theodore having a relationship with Clement'? Here is an example of borrowing. Clement writes:
But self-control, desirable for its own sake, perfected through knowledge, abiding ever, makes the man lord and master of himself; so that the Gnostic is temperate and passionless, incapable of being dissolved by pleasures and pains, as they say adamant is by fire (Stromata 7:11)
And now Theodore:
[f]or example the salamander, the animal which can despise the flame, and adamant when it is struck by iron (not phantasmal and docetic, as we said) remain impassible. Absbestos, too, remains whole when it takes fire upon itself, suffering no harm from its association with fire. (to Theopompus p. 167)
And then there is the whole question of Origen - not Clement - ultimately initiating Theodore into this homoerotic Christianity from Alexandria. How do we know that it ever had a reality? Let's recount what we know about Origen and Theodore. Origen leaves Alexandria in 215 and arrives in Caesarea by way of Tyre. He is met there by two rich youths who undergo catechetical instruction before returning together to Neocaesarea, the capitol of Pontus. Theodore and his 'friend' end up sitting as rulers in that region.

Most of us know Theodore by his baptismal name 'Gregory' the so-called Wonder worker. His 'partner' - his David to his Jonathan - was named Athenodorus. We know nothing more about other than the two sat together overseeing the churches in Pontus. Basil of Caesarea, the grandson of a certain Macrina references his memory in the following terms
But where shall I rank the great Gregory, and the words uttered by him? Shall we not place among Apostles and Prophets a man who walked by the same Spirit as they; who never through all his days diverged from the footprints of the saints; who maintained, as long as he lived, the exact principles of evangelical citizenship? ... He too by Christ's mighty name commanded even rivers to change their course, and caused a lake, which afforded a ground of quarrel to some covetous brethren, to dry up. Moreover his predictions of things to come were such as in no wise to fall short of those of the great prophets. To recount all his wonderful works in detail would be too long a task. By the superabundance of gifts, wrought in him by the Spirit in all power and in signs and in marvels, he was styled a second Moses by the very enemies of the Church. Thus in all that he through grace accomplished, alike byword and deed, a light seemed ever to be shining, token of the heavenly power from the unseen which followed him.
The cult that grew around Gregory is quite unique. But we don't get a lot of direct information about him or his (Platonic) lover Athenodorus. We only get indirect information about this homoerotic cult in Christianity by what we might call the surving or living continuation of this practice by the so-called Cappadocian Fathers (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzus and Basil) who preserve his memory.

Were Theodore and Athenodorus actual 'brothers' of the same parents or - as we should now suspect - ritually established brothers - 'manufactured' if you will - according to an ancient mystery rite of Alexandria? Theodore never mentions Athenodorus by name in the Panegyric but there is a cryptic male 'other' figure in the text whom Theodore hides from plain view. Theodore also tells us that he came from a rich family but that his father died when he was young. By the fourth century the actual details of Gregory's life become confused through an industry of apocryphal legends related to the Cappadocian Fathers - Gregory of Nysa, his brother Basil of Caesarea and his 'spiritual' brother Gregory of Nazianzus. Indeed as we shall soon see Gregory of Nyssa goes so far as to actually substitute the name of Firmillianus of Caesarea - a second century Cappadocian Father - for Theodore's original same sex partner.

In other words, whereas Eusebius speaks of Theodore and 'his brother' Athenodorus coming to receiving initiation into the mysteries of Christianity with Origen, Gregory writes instead of Gregory and how he "fell in with Firmilian, a Cappadocian of noble family, similar to himself in character and talent, as he showed in his subsequent life when he adorned the Church of Caesarea." Clearly then 'brother' is a term used to describe two men who had no blood relations who whose souls were knitted together like David and Jonathan because of a 'brother-making ritual' from Alexandria.

Theodore in his own Panygeric tells us that his decision to go to see Origen was set in motion by his mother effort to get an education for her son. Theodore tells us that she decided that "I should attend a teacher of public speaking, in the hope that I too should become a public speaker." His mother made the fateful decision to send Theodore alone (there is no mention of him even having an actual 'brother' yet) to gain "instruction in the Roman tongue" to further his career as a lawyer and it was only after he attended this school that he met Athenodorus/Firmilian and decided to go see Origen at Caesarea Maritima.

Much the same thing is reported to have happened to Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus interestingly enough a century later. Yet this in no way should make us suspect that the two 'invented' the original yoke between Theodore and Athenodorus. The relationship is attested in the writings of Eusebius at the beginning of the fourth century. Theodore tells us in one section of the Panygeric that Origen who acted the part of mystagogue uniting him to some other man:
And that man took up this charge zealously with me; and I, on my side, gave myself to it— more, however, to gratify the man, than as being myself an admirer of the study. And when he got me as his pupil, he began to teach me with all enthusiasm ... I was becoming well instructed in these laws, at once bonds, as it were, were cast upon my movements, and cause and occasion for my journeying to these parts arose from the city Berytus, which is a city not far distant from this territory, somewhat Latinized, and credited with being a school for these legal studies. And this revered man [Origen] coming from Egypt, from the city of Alexandria, where previously he happened to have his home, was moved by other circumstances to change his residence to this place, as if with the express object of meeting us.
Scholars have always noticed the strange shift from the singular 'I' to the 'we' or 'us' throughout the narrative. The figure of Athenodorus is made obscure - perhaps deliberately so - because their union was both sacred and secret in early Church.

Scholars however have struggled to make sense of the switch from 'I' to 'we.' Michael Slusser, who published a recent English translation of the Panyrgetic argues that it is impossible that Gregory actually brought a brother with him from Pontus - "it seems unnecessary to connect the frequent use of the first person plural in the Panygeric with Eusebius's assertion that Athenodorus, a brother of Gregory, also studied with Origen, and to make them mutually dependent on each other." Indeed he goes one step further arguing that the 'we' in the Panygeric occurs where a brother can hardly be meant, and the singular sometimes appears where one would expect a brother to be explicitly included, had one been present.

So who was this 'we' that Theodore references in the Panygeric? Richard Valantasis, an expert on the Greek Orthodox tradition suggests the list of possibilities include "fellow students, or the audience at the presumed presentation of the speech, or a combination of all of these." As such it is generally acknowledged by people who have actually studied the material that Gregory did not have a brother accompany him when he left Pontus. To this end, Athenodorus only became the brother of Gregory after undergoing some sort of mystical initiation within the school of Origen at Caesarea.

Eusebius describes the historical situation as follows "[a]mong these Theodore, the same that was distinguished among the bishops of our day under the name of Gregory, and his brother Athenodorus, we know to have been especially celebrated. Finding them deeply interested in Greek and Roman learning, he infused into them a love of philosophy, and led them to exchange their old zeal for the study of divinity. Remaining with him five years, they made such progress in divine things, that although they were still young, both of them were honored with a bishopric in the churches of Pontus." Indeed this unusual situation where two men presided together over all the churches of Pontus is very odd. Eusebius repeats the formula over and over again in his Church History - viz. "the brothers Gregory and Athenodorus, pastors of the churches in Pontus."

We learn from Gregory of Nyssa that when Theodore arrived back in Pontus after his initiation into the Alexandrian mysteries at Caesarea Maritima he was allegedly confirmed as a priest in the most unusual manner. The previous bishop just waves his hands while Gregory was still journeying far away and 'presto' he becomes the next to sit on the episcopal throne. The implications clearly are that there was no 'Catholic Church' at Pontus of this time. Theodore was probably the head of a separate church in this chaotic period, one which may well have attempted to bring former 'Marcionites' into some sort of communion with the greater Church. Interesting also is the fact that Gregory of Nazianzus's family were also said to venerate 'God Most High' (Theos Hyspsitos).

It is important to note that in his Life of Gregory (the name Theodore ultimately took at baptism) Gregory of Nyssa makes repeated identification of our Gregory as a 'second Moses.' The bishop of Nyssa notes:
But since [Gregory] had set his mind on how the soul might be perfected by virtue, he devoted his entire life to this with zeal, and allowing himself to say good-bye to life's affairs he became in our parts another Moses, rivalling him outright with wonderous deeds. Both left this agitated and beset life, Moses and Gregory each in his own time going off by himself, until to each the reward of the pure life was manifested by a theophany. But it is said that Moses had a wife along with philosophy, while Gregory made virtue his only consort. So although they both had the same aim, for each of them departed from the crowd with the purpose of penetrating the divine mysteries with the pure eye of the soul, someone who knows how to size up virtue is entitled to judge which of them was marked more by the passionless life: the one who stooped to the legitimate and permissible participation in pleasures, or the one who transcended even that and gave no opening into his life to material attachment.
The obvious comparison between Theodore (= Gregory) and Moses must have already been established long before. The identification of Athenodorus as his 'brother' may have all but disappeared but it clearly imitated the pairing of Moses and Aaron.

Yet as Raymond Van Dam notes, the pairing of Theodore/Gregory and Athenodorus/Firmilian has parallels to the later Cappadocian :
although in this panegyric Gregory never mentioned his (i.e. Gregory Thaumaturgus') brother directly, drafting an account of the life of Gregory Thaumaturgus allowed him to provide an oblique meditation on the career of Basil, another native of Neocaesarea who had become a local bishop. Through these implicit comparisons and contrasts Gregory could comment indirectly on his brother's life and career. He also used this oration to comment on his own relationship with his brother. One commentary took the form of silence. Gregory of Nyssa never mentioned this brother. Instead, in one story he claimed that Gregory Thaumaturgus' companion in his studies had been Firmilianus, "one of the aristocrats in Cappadocia" who would himself later became bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. This version of Gregory Thaumaturgus' life suggested a parallel with Basil's life. Just as Gregory Thaumaturgus had studied with a friend from Cappadocia, so Basil, another native of Pontus, had studied with his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, another native of Cappadocia. Basil had selected a friend as his companion, rather than his brother.
Interestingly one of the strongest pieces of evidence that Gregory of Nyssa wasn't married is the manner in which Gregory Nazianzus references his sister Theosebia as his syzygos.

Of course the question which now stands before us is why was it that Gregory of Nyssa was forced to take his sister as his partner rather than his more accomplished brother? The obvious answer is that the bishop of Nyssa recognized - Basil was already taken. He and Gregory Nazianzus were part of a bizarre monastic 'brother-making' cult that dated back to Theodore/Gregory and Athenodorus/Firmilian and Origen and ultimately Clement and the secret gospel of Mark. As such according to my understanding it would hardly be surprising to find a fragment of the letter in a monastery let alone the epicenter of the Origenist culture in the Byzantine period. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Th ... frontcover

So again I put it to you - is Secret Mark advocating 'modern homosexuality' or is the Letter to Theodore a witness to a mystical monastic community attested in other traditions related to the same 'Theodore'? The answer should be obvious to everyone other than those who refuse to admit they allowed their ignorance and arrogance get the better of them.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Secret Alias » Thu May 07, 2020 9:33 am

More on the 'homosexual' text written by Theodore rather than written to him by Clement:
This remarkable account of erotic pedagogy and the intimate bond between teacher and student—despite its explicit anchoring in the scriptural record and its characters—is clearly based on principles of friendship and love that can be traced from the dialogues of Plato through the philosophical traditions contemporary with our text. The recurrent designation of David as the “superior” (to kreittōn) and Jonathan as the “inferior” (to cheirōn) corresponds to the familiar taxonomy of the active “lover” (erastēs) and the passive “beloved” (erōmenos) and the orderly relationship between them.15 Yet with a crucial difference.

The essential inequality of the relationship between the teacher and student, between Origen and Gregory—the former (the superior) completely in control and the latter (the inferior) under his control—represents a basic inversion of the structure and dynamic of the traditional erotic relationship. While the older “lover” (erastes) was classically the one struck by desire for a youthful “beloved” (eromenos), and their relationship had its basis in that hierarchical attraction, Gregory's narrative describes his own attraction to his unmoved master. This inversion, of course, is not at all Gregory's invention, but rather the extrapolation of the Socratic/Platonic reversal of the erotic situation. Perhaps the most apt illustration of the fundamental understanding that underlies this pedagogy of eros can be drawn from the Handbook (Didaskalikos) of Platonism composed by the second-century Middle Platonic philosopher Alcinous16—a figure, as we shall see, of recurring interest for the appreciation of Gregory's text. In the course of his discussion of “friendship,” Alcinous turns to “erotic love” (erōs):
Erotic love is also in its way a form of friendship. There is an honorable form of love, which is that of a noble soul, there is a base form, which is that of a bad soul and there is a median form, which is that of a soul in a median state. . . . That there are three is indicated particularly by the fact that they have aims which differ from one another. The one that is base is directed only at the body, dominated by pleasure and in this respect taking on a bestial character; the noble one is directed only at the soul, which demonstrates its suitability for promoting virtue; and the median one is directed at the combination of body and soul, being attracted to the body, but directing itself also towards the beauty of the soul.
And thus concludes his examination:
The person who is a suitable object of love, also, occupies a median position, being neither bad nor good. For this reason the personification of Love should be identified, not as a god, but rather 35 as a daemon — never entering into an earthy body, however, but 'transmitting to men what comes from the gods' (Snip. 202c), and vice versa. Generally speaking, given that love is distinguished into these three aforementioned species, the love of the good lover, being free from passion, can be regarded as an art, and hence has its place 40 in the rational part of the soul. Its aims are to discern the worthy object of love, to gain possession of it, and to make use of it. One selects such a one on the basis of whether his aims and impulses are noble, are directed towards Beauty, and are strong and ardent. He who sets out to gain such an object of love will not gain it by spoiling or heaping praises on his beloved, but rather by restraining him, and demonstrating to him that life in his present state is not worth living. When he captures the affections of his beloved, he will make use of this position by passing on to him the means by which he may become perfectly exercised in virtue; and the aim for this pair is to progress from being lover and beloved to becoming friends.
The passage is complex—a not-atypical amalgam of Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic elements18—but illustrates well the basic pedagogical “inequality” that lies at the very heart of Gregory's discussion as well. As in the text of Alcinous, David/Origen will restrain his beloved and demonstrate that his present life is “not worth living” (Symposium 216a), using his influence over Jonathan/Gregory to assist him in his progress toward the perfect exercise of virtue.

Before concluding the discussion of Gregory's remarkable description of the relationship between Jonathan and David (and, of course, his own with Origen), some very brief remarks are in order regarding the history of the exegesis of the underlying biblical text (1 Sam 18:1). The early intepretation of this verse can be summarized with the utmost economy: virtually nonexistent [emphasis mine]. With the exception of the passage before us, premedieval Christian commentators would appear to have shown virtually no interest in this verse and its possible significance. (This silence includes, interestingly enough, Origen himself.) It might be noted that rabbinic commentators were equally reticent: with the exception of an isolated comment in the tractate Avot (“The Ethics of the Fathers”)— where the relationship of Jonathan and David is noted, without further elaboration, as an example of unconditional love, “contingent upon nothing”—this verse and its context are scarcely explored. Given the bold use that Gregory makes of the text here, one is tempted to draw the conclusion that it may have been, in fact, the exception that proves the rule: the binding of the souls of Jonathan and David was deemed a theme better served by silence than by explicit interpretative discussion. Moreover, the silence of the ancients concerning Jonathan and David is curiously mirrored in the reservation of modern scholarship regarding this passage in Gregory's Address: the boldness of the description has been passed over in telling silence by most readers of the work, and the suggestion that the relationship between Gregory and Origen may have been homoerotic in nature has itself been greeted with further silence or embarrassed denial.20

It is fascinating, precisely in this context, to see how several generations later in the fourth century this description of the intimacy between teacher and student may have been interpreted and partially neutralized. Gregory of Nazianzus's funeral oration for his contemporary and colleague Basil of Caesarea provides one of the most celebrated descriptions from the fourth century of the intense bonding between male friends.21 In the course of his description of Basil's youthful studies, prior to the return to Cappadocia to assume ecclesiastical duties, Gregory somewhat hesitantly breaks the course of his narrative:
Up to this point my discourse has proceeded smoothly, bearing me along on an even, and very easy, and truly royal highway in my praises of this man. But now I am at a loss for words and know not which way to turn, for my speech has encountered an obstacle. At this point I should like to profit by the occasion to add some facts concerning myself to what has been said, and to delay a little in my narrative to tell you about the origin, the circumstance, and the beginning of our friendship, or, to speak more exactly, about our full accord of heart and nature. For the eye is not wont to turn away readily from attractive sights, and if it is forcefully drawn away, it is wont to return to them again. And the same is true of discourse when there is question of narrating what is very pleasing to us. Yet I fear the presumptiousness of the undertaking, and I will speak, therefore, with all possible reserve. If loving regret forces me beyond bounds, pardon this most just of all feelings, not to experience which would be a great loss, at least in the judgment of intelligent men.
The following pages of Gregory's oration are then devoted to a stirring account of the intimate relationship that developed between the two young men during their time together as students in Athens. Initially, this is the result of Gregory's intervention on behalf of Basil, in order that he not be subjected to the hazing customarily accorded newcomers. “This was the prelude to our friendship,” Gregory writes. “This was the spark that enkindled our union. It was thus that we were struck with a mutual love.” A subsequent incident finds the two young men united against their fellow students: “This was the second step in our friendship, no longer a spark but a flame that burned bright and high ... In this way I restored his good spirits, and by this mutual experience, I bound him to myself all the more.”23 The deepening relationship between Gregory and Basil took its course from there:
Then, as time went on, we mutually avowed our affection for each other, and that philosophy was the object of our zeal. Thenceforth we were all in all to each other, sharing the same roof, the same table, the same sentiments, our eyes fixed on one goal, as our mutual affection grew ever warmer and stronger. Carnal loves, centered on that which passes away, also pass away, like the flowers of spring. The flame does not endure when the fuel is exhausted, but disappears along with what kindles it. Desire, likewise, does not abide when its source wastes away. But those loves which are pleasing to God, and chaste, since they have a stable object, are on that account more lasting, and, the more beauty is revealed to them, the more does it bind to itself and to one another those whose love is centered on the same object. This is the law of the higher love.

We were impelled by equal hopes in the pursuit of learning, a thing especially open to envy. But envy was absent, and emulation intensified our zeal. There was a contest between us, not as to who should have first place for himself, but how he could yield it to the other, for each of us regarded the glory of the other as his own. We seemed to have a single soul animating two bodies. And while credence is not to be given to those who claim that all things are in all, 17 we at least must believe that we were in and with each other. The sole object of us both was virtue and living for future hopes, having detached ourselves from this world before departing from it. With this in view, we directed our life and all our actions, following the guidance of the divine precept, and at the same time spurring each other to virtue, and, if it is not too much to say so, being for each other a rule and a scales for the discernment of good and evil.
There is no small force in the argument that the model for the portrayal of these two celebrated friends may have been our Gregory's description of his highly charged relationship with Origen.25 We can observe, however, a significant transformation of the account in the Address to suit the nature of the relationship between the classmates in Athens: Gregory and Basil shared a bond forged between equals, and the erotic language blends effortlessly into the newly emerging rhetoric of friendship. The highly charged inequality of the relationship between master and disciple gives way to the description of the mutual and shared attraction of male friends. The highly charged inequality of the relationship between master and disciple gives way to the description of the mutual and shared attraction of male friends. Yet one cannot help but be struck by the failure of Gregory of Nazianzus to introduce the figures of David and Jonathan into his text: what more eloquent (and quintessentially scriptural) expression could he have found for the depth of feelings that he shared with Basil? We are left with the possibility that this level of exegetical boldness could no longer be tolerated and that Gregory of Nazianzus, in the course of toning down some measure of the erotic discourse, might also have “discarded” the example of David and Jonathan.

Indeed, despite this quite remarkable reticence of later Christian tradition regarding the scriptural model employed by Gregory in the Address, the mode of relationship so powerfully presented in our text was to have a long and influential afterlife within a variety of ecclesiastical contexts. This ideal of spiritual bonding between same-sex lovers/friends, as described by Gregory, would seem to presage aspects of both attitude and practice that would emerge in monastic contexts in the following centuries and continue to play an important role in later medieval and Byzantine educational and religious contexts. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Greg ... 66&bih=657
Again I am not saying that one should accept dogmatically that Clement to Theodore and Theodore to Origen represent a 'homoerotic Alexandrian Christian culture' that was passed on to monastic communities such as that of Mar Saba. But it's a fucking better argument than all the nonsense about Smith learning all these and other details (that a collection of letters of Clement was at Mar Saba until recently, the style of Mark, the style of Clement, Byzantine handwriting, book smuggling etc). If you were honest you admit that too by now ...
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Stuart » Thu May 07, 2020 4:13 pm

Ken I give you 3 stars for getting under Stephen's skin. And great observation.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Secret Alias » Thu May 07, 2020 5:26 pm

So ....

1. Understanding Clement's Theodore to be an initiate getting information about Alexandrian Christianity and the same Theodore in Origen's correspondence IS LESS LIKELY to be true than a disproved conspiracy theory which holds the discoverer Morton Smith to be an omniscient, omnipotent forger?
2. Clement's use of homoerotic gospel to explain to Theodore the core mystery of Alexandrian Christianity IS BETTER UNDERSTOOD AS COMPLETELY UNRELATED to Origen's use of a homoerotic passage in the OT even though both attempt to explain the core mystery of Alexandrian Christianity to a certain initiate named Theodore?
3. Scholarship's reluctance to acknowledge Origen's homoerotic instruction to Theodore HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH scholarship's reluctance to accept Secret Mark because it appears to have a core homoerotic teaching?

Stuart it's perfectly fine to dislike me or even hate me. But what does that have to do with determining the truth about Secret Mark? The question here is whether or not Alexandrian Christianity was based on a homoerotic mystery cult. It's not just Clement's letter to Theodore which confirms this. Theodore himself confirms it also in his letter to Origen. This seems to be a much more compelling argument than subscribing to a ridiculous conspiracy theory.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Post by Ken Olson » Thu May 07, 2020 8:53 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
So ....

1. Understanding Clement's Theodore to be an initiate getting information about Alexandrian Christianity and the same Theodore in Origen's correspondence IS LESS LIKELY to be true than a disproved conspiracy theory which holds the discoverer Morton Smith to be an omniscient, omnipotent forger?
Tone down your rhetoric. It’s difficult to dialogue with someone who is turned up to 11 all the time. It’s a lot of work for your readers to wade through your rants (e.g., the argumentum ad Americam) to find out if you have said anything of value. I actually think you have a good idea that might become publishable with the homoerotic or same-sex unions in Alexandrian Christianity thing, but you’re miles away from that yet. You need to step back and think about it some more and make a coherent argument. Also, you need to stop using Stephen Carlson’s thesis as a rhetorical foil, parodying it, attributing it to people that are not advocating it, and assuming that if it’s wrong, you must be right. Make your case on its own merits without reference to Carlson.

It is extremely unlikely Clement’s Theodore and Theodore/Gregory are the same person, unless you’re planning to radically alter the traditional dates. Clement died c. 215 and Gregory was born c. 213.
2. Clement's use of homoerotic gospel to explain to Theodore the core mystery of Alexandrian Christianity IS BETTER UNDERSTOOD AS COMPLETELY UNRELATED to Origen's use of a homoerotic passage in the OT even though both attempt to explain the core mystery of Alexandrian Christianity to a certain initiate named Theodore?
There may have been a tradition of same-sex relationships in Alexandrian Christianity, but you have to get your facts straight. First, you’re talking about two different Theodores. Second, the long passage you quoted involving David and Jonathan is from Gregory’s Thanksgiving Address 83-92. It’s by Gregory and about Origen. Third, you need to look at similarities and differences within the Alexandrian tradition of homoerotic relationships. Is the teacher-student the same as the fraternal relationship? Do they use the same ritual? Do you have evidence they used a ritual at all? Would Jesus fit in it or is he categorically different?
3. Scholarship's reluctance to acknowledge Origen's homoerotic instruction to Theodore HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH scholarship's reluctance to accept Secret Mark because it appears to have a core homoerotic teaching?
Stop painting everyone that disagrees with you with the same brush. Scholar’s not talking about homoeroticism in Gregory is not the same thing as discussing homosexuality in Secret Mark (which I did).
Stuart it's perfectly fine to dislike me or even hate me.


Stuart aside, you do tend to categorize substantive criticism as motivated by negative emotions and dismiss it on that basis. And again, watch your own rhetoric. Model the behavior you wish to see.
But what does that have to do with determining the truth about Secret Mark? The question here is whether or not Alexandrian Christianity was based on a homoerotic mystery cult.


Talk about that. Not Stephen Carlson’s book.
It's not just Clement's letter to Theodore which confirms this. Theodore himself confirms it also in his letter to Origen.


You have a tendency to write
as though you’ve proven things you’ve only suggested, and then to act as though people that don’t accept your suggestions are just being obstinate or dishonest. This really does not encourage people to engage with you.
This seems to be a much more compelling argument than subscribing to a ridiculous conspiracy theory.
Stop placing opposing arguments into categories to dismiss them. Deal with the opposing arguments, not the labels you’ve assigned them.

Best,

Ken

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