Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Gnostic Notebook: Volume Three: On Plato, the Fourth Dimension, and the Lost Philosophy by Timothy James Lambert.
Reviewed on the basis of a complimentary copy received from the author. (Nevertheless, this review contains only my usual biases.)
In this third volume of Timothy James Lambert’s Gnostic Notebook, I was pleasantly surprised to find him executing a version of a project I had contemplated undertaking myself some years ago. To wit: He revisits the theory of matter from Plato’s Timaeus and relates it to the ideas of Buckminster Fuller’s Synergetics (particularly the closest-packing of spheres and consequent formation of polyhedra), all viewed under the influence of esoteric correspondences. Oddly, Lambert doesn’t credit Fuller’s work with closest-packing of spheres, although he does use an evocative quote from Critical Path to illustrate one of the correspondences that he asserts.
Most of Lambert’s text is concerned to ground these ideas in an unlikely textual synthesis of the Genesis creation account and the I Ching. He admits on his final page that he hasn’t provided any narrative to support his claim that the authors of Genesis had the I Ching at their disposal as a key for coding ideas, but he says he’ll be picking up this thread in a later volume. Another tease for future work is the promise (150) that the next book will undertake a reading of the I Ching as chiefly concerned with enlightened human procreation, which would perhaps capitalize on the occasional broad hints at sexual symbolism in volumes II and III of the series so far.
Throughout the book, Lambert intuits and adduces a multi-layered system of correspondences which he insists are “falsifiable” and inductively robust. I didn’t have trouble maintaining my skepticism toward them, however. One point of especial weakness was his “correction” of the traditional meanings of two of the I Ching trigrams on the basis of relationship within a hypothetical octahedron with planetary attributions to the vertices (in turn corresponding to yin and yang hexagram lines). It’s ironic that he takes this revision to indicate the utility of his theory here, as well as suggesting that Hakuin Ekaku (an 18th-century Zen master) composed the “one hand clapping” koan specifically to serve as a clue to this supposed secret (132-5).
There is constant reference to an astrological diagram, “an image which I call the tree of life” (76, fig. 69), which is not the Etz Chaim of the qabalah. It has the planets in a central column, ranging from Earth at the bottom, up through the days of the week from Sol (Sunday) to Saturn (Saturday). While this arrangement is useful for his exposition of the Genesis creation story, he makes an unjustified pivot at the book’s end to assert that it maps on to the sat chakras of esoteric human anatomy. The result is one that I personally consider “falsified” on the basis of esoteric instruction I’ve received, as well as my personal practice.
Despite the “Fourth Dimension” in the title and some discussion in the early parts of the book, there was disappointingly little hypergeometry here. And while Lambert has promised to revisit Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), he intends to do so in the context of the Platonic-Christian connection, rather than that of hypergeometry. This volume was as long as the previous two put together, but held my attention less efficiently. Perhaps a more magisterial tone would better suit the material than Lambert’s chatty exploratory approach? Yet these are titled as a “Notebook,” and the style reflects that: a tentative groping on the page for the content that will deserve to be summed up in the exposition of a “divine system.” [via]