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2. What made you decide to start a radio show devoted to discussing Gnosticism?
Ironically, I had just been excommunicated from a Gnostic church for something I hadn’t done (I’m not a 30th level magician…only in the World of Warcraft!). At the same time, I had started listening to an Internet station called Freethoughtmedia.com, mainly an avenue for New Atheism and Humanistic issues. I was feeling isolated so I sent the owner of the station a proposal to produce a handful of shows on Gnosticism—a series of interviews that would educate as well as dispel many misunderstandings on the ancient heretics. He accepted, assuming that the enemy of his enemy was his friend. Before I knew it, I was falling down a deep rabbit hole with Alice and Sophia. And I’m still falling after four years!
3. Your book “Voices of Gnosticism” is a collection of transcripts of interviews from your show, and does a fantastic job of introducing all facets of Gnosticism to the reader. When did you realize, or what made you decide, there would be value in collecting these interviews into a book?
The idea surfaced in the vast expanse of my head and was proposed by several listeners throughout the years. A few stenographers even offered to transcribe the interviews. I never paid much attention, falling into the cynical yet neo-utopian view that less people were reading and cyberspace was the new and true Library of Alexandria. I finally took a small Red Pill when Andrew Phillip Smith approached me with a sound and lucid vision of an Aeon Byte book based my most prolific guests. Since Andrew had been a guest many times, author of several books that had influenced me, editor of The Gnostic Journal who I had written for, and owner of a publishing company, I knew he couldn’t be an Archon and was onto something. The rest is heresy.
4. As an old school music fan, who would sit and write down lyrics to songs by playing second after second on a tape player, starting and stopping, starting and stopping, I know that transcribing from audio to text can take an insanely long time. How long did it take for you to transcribe all these interviews?
It was agonizing! I hated having to think of poor Andrew spending hours transcribing each interview! I know he started with a voice recognition software, but then he got the usual ‘too’s’ instead of ‘to’s’ and so forth, while Greek words came out all Greek to him; so he eventually did it the hard way, but he did an august job. Even then, it took months of us working together to match the vocals of the interviews to the transcripts. It’s not easy getting 60+ thousand words from audio to print, let me inform you! And I would advise for anyone undertaking such a venture to make sure the publisher and author agree on whether to use UK or American English…it will save you a lot of time and headaches and bad jokes based what is considered dirty in each culture.
5. Your interviews contain a wealth of information and you do an excellent job of really getting to the heart of your interviewee’s research. How much independent research did you need to do for these interviews?
I invest large sums of time and effort with each guest, regardless of their status or how much I agree with their premises. For one, I am passionate about all subjects dealing with the occult and comparative religion. I want to learn along with my guests. Furthermore, I understand how much hard work each guest puts into their books, movies or doctrines, so why shouldn’t they get the same respect? Not only do I read their respective work for the interview, I study all of their other efforts and everything I can about the subject at hand (even if I’m comfortably familiar with it). By the time of the interview, I want to be their virtual stalker or single white female.
6. Out of all the interviews you’ve done, do you have a favorite? If so, why does it stand out for you?
Why, this is my favorite interview! Me…me…me!
7. Is it odd for you to now be interviewed? How is the transition from interviewer to interviewee working out for you?
Okay, I admit it! You’re killing me softly with your song! The hunter has become the hunted! I’ve always envisioned myself as a cyber-Socrates, except a million times dumber, midwifing truths from my guests and handing those babies to my listeners. It is my greatest hope that they can nurture these truths into viable spiritual systems that will induce higher states of consciousness.
Besides, what can I say that could ever surpass any of my astral guests who emanate themselves from their Pleromas down into Aeon Byte every week? Uh, I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain?
8. If my readers want to learn more about Gnosticism, where do you suggest they start? I’d recommend your book “Voices of Gnosticism” and certainly the “Dictionary of Gnosticism” by Andrew Phillip Smith, who was kind enough to contribute to my website as well as write a wonderful forward for your book.
Good choice for books, I say, I say! That’s another difficult question, since ultimately Gnosticism is a very personal faith even when you do find those with the same Etch A Sketch mysticism as yours. Gnostics are always the perennial strangers in an estranged land. J. Krishnamurti once said truth is a pathless land. I like to say gnosis is a pathless labyrinth. You just don’t know exactly how the song of Sophia will strike you or what teaching of an Aeon wearing mammal skins will stimulate your Divine Spark. I certainly would suggest that if a person is interested in Gnosticism, they approach it for what it is and not for what it isn’t. Many people enter the Esoterica because they are rebelling against a former religion. They end up roleplaying instead of fully participating in the mystery, their hearts still so filled with negativity that it cannot be filled with light.
Having babbled that sermon, it goes without saying that one should either own Bentley Layton’s The Gnostic Scriptures or Marvin Meyer’s The Nag Hammadi Scriptures. Since modern Gnostics have their usual suspects they propose, I’m going to go ahead and throw a few curveballs: Elements of Gnosticism by Stuart Holroyd because it’s a concise and approachable history of the Gnostics in a little over a hundred pages; The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual & Diversity in Early Christianity by David Brakke because he takes one of the best snapshots of the rise and fall of the Gnostics; The Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas because he reveals that the socio-political world of the Roman Empire that early Christians and Gnostics struggled in eerily parallels our modern times, and thus why the Gnostic spirit is very important today; Valis by Philip K. Dick because he captured the essence of Gnosticism and translated it into a modern context; and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll because the story of Alice is the story of Sophia is the story of each one of us.
And definitely watch The Matrix, The Truman Show, Inception, Total Recall, all at the same time and several times, while reading out loud the poetry of William Blake with a Jungian analyst sitting next to you on the couch.
Like I always say on Aeon Byte, you know you have taken the Red Pill when you start writing your own Gospel and living your own myth, as the Gnostics did throughout history even if history erased much of their wonders.
9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers should be aware of?
I have just released the second edition of my futuristic yet very Gnostic-themed vampire saga, Stargazer (available at Amazon!). I’m working on releasing the sequel sometime late this year or early next year. I have a couple of embryonic projects for a scholarly book on the Gnostics, and there is a good possibility Aeon Byte might go completely live soon with callers and 1-800 numbers commercials for Cialis (but I haven’t bitten completely yet). If you include the actual show, writing articles for different periodicals, and making battle plans with Sophia, I don’t even have time to look for where I put those $#%@ Red Pills.
10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
Ah…that feels good! I can ask questions! How come you don’t have a “Gnosticism” category at the Magical Buffet? Is this some sort of prejudice? Hating on the Gnostics feels good but Yaldabaoth forbid we ruffle the feathers of Wiccans so we give them two categories, eh? Don’t think for a second that this sense of persecution is inflating my sense of self-importance! I’m pulling off my microphone and walking off the set! You’re out of order! This court is out of order! Wiccans are out of order! This whole buffet is outta order!
Alas you have caught me Miguel! The Magical Buffet has partnered up with the Wiccans in an effort to suppress information about Gnosticism ever reaching the public at large. Smart ass! You know what? I don’t feel like a jerk anymore for question number one! That’s right? I said it!
About Miguel Conner:
Miguel Conner is host of “Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio”, the only topical and guest radio show on Gnosticism and its brethren in mystical heresy, ancient and modern. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, popular, and Philip K. Dick-ish vampire epic, “The Queen of Darkness” (re-released as “Stargazer” in 2011). His articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in such publication as “The Stygian Vortex”, “The Gnostic Journal”, “Houston Public News”, “The Extreme”, “The Cimmerian Journal”, “Examiner” and many others. He lives in the lawful dystopia of Chicago with his family, patiently waiting for the beginning of the world.
Miguel’s website is: http://www.thegodabovegod.com
Stargazer Novel homepage: http://stargazervampirenovel.blogspot.com