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Alan Moore’s Promethea: Countercultural Gnosis and the End of the World

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image of Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies

Alan Moore’s Promethea (1999 to 2005) is among the most explicitly “gnostic,” “esoteric,” and “occultist” comics strips ever published. Hailed as a virtuoso performance in the art of comics writing, its intellectual content and the nature of its spiritual message have been neglected by scholars. While the attainment of gnosis is clearly central to Moore’s message, the underlying metaphysics is more congenial to the panentheist perspective of ancient Hermetism than to Gnosticism in its classic typological sense defined by dualism and anti-cosmic pessimism. Most importantly, Promethea is among the most explicit and intellectually sophisticated manifestoes of a significant new religious trend in contemporary popular culture. Its basic assumption is that there is ultimately no difference between imagination and reality, so that the question of whether gods, demons, or other spiritual entities are “real” or just “imaginary” becomes pointless. As a result, the factor of religious belief becomes largely irrelevant, and its place is taken by the factors of personal experience and meaningful practice.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam w.j.hanegraaff@uva.nl

10.1163/2451859X-12340013
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2016-07-11
2018-06-25

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