Analysis: Letters of Marshall McLuhan – Part 6.3 – His Awareness of Masonic, Gnostic, Occult and Secret Society Influence
Series in Progress – Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6.1 | 6.2
Part 6.3: March 10, 2018
Edited: March 11, 2018
Unless specified otherwise, page numbers are from Letters of Marshall McLuhan (1987) 
Editor’s footnote (p. 235):
. . . McLuhan’s interest in Renaissance and Neo-Augustan literature (e.g. Pope  and Swift , who were interested in Rosicrucianism  and Masonry ), . . . in modern literature, led him to undertake research into the effects of esoteric thought on the arts. Tracing the symbolism and rituals that were a means of transmitting gnostic  and pagan  religious thought in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, . . . the role of Rosicrucianism and Masonry in the transition from the Renaissance to the Age of Reason, and . . . these themes and associated liturgies and symbols in modern art and literature– . . . Eliot’s The Waste Land  and Joyce’s Ulysses . As a Roman Catholic, McLuhan suspected that “secret societies”, and “secret doctrines”–associated with gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, and Masonry–persisted among elites . . . Following Wyndham Lewis’s condemnation of the “freemasonry of the arts” in Time and Western Man , . . .
McLuhan’s letter to Ezra Pound  (Feb. 28, 1953, p. 235):
. . . going through the rituals of secret societies . . . . I’m in a bloody rage . . . arts and sciences are in the pockets of these societies. It doesn’t make me any happier to know that Joyce, Lewis, Eliot, yourself have used these rituals . . . .
On the topic of cultural warfare and control of knowledge:
Monopolies of knowledge are intolerable.
The use of the arts for sectarian warfare! ugh. . .
The validity of the rituals is entirely in the cognitive order.
Art is imitation of the process of apprehension . . .
. . . the nature of the sectarian strife among the Societies . . .
So, he’s talking about stratification and monopolization of knowledge along with the use of the arts, or culture as a method of warfare via embedded rituals. I guess these are not the kinds of examples he would have been aware of, and not to judge anyone, but I would personally suggest that when we are rolling in the mud, shaving our heads, dressing like zombies, applying tattoos or piercings (body modification), wearing pink as men, removing clothes in public, etc., then we are being made to unknowingly act out the role of slaves or other modes of victimization. Examples of such activities could be analyzed further in another article.
In a letter to Wyndham Lewis (April 15, 1953, p. 236) , McLuhan writes:
. . . aware of the reality of the secret societies in the arts, philosophy and politics. Your own work . . . taken on a much different significance . . . (p. 236)
Letter from McLuhan to Walter J. Ong, S.J.  (May 31, 1953, p. 237):
. . . exploring the relations between the Secret Societies and the arts. A grisly business. I don’t know what you know, but I know there isn’t a living artist or critic of repute who isn’t playing their game. I mean their rituals and doctrines as basis of artistic organization.
Eric Voegelein’s . . . The New Science of Politics [:An Introduction, 1952] (Chic. U. Press)  is a denunciation of the Gnostic sects from Joachim of Flora [or Floris]  to Marx . Sees “Reformation”  as re-emergence of these sects into the open. Relevant to Ramus of course . Odd how Dominicans  seem to have yen for gnostic techniques of gnosis via passions. Bruno , Savonarola , Campanella. . . . Maritain’s . . . Creative Intuition in Art [and Poetry, 1953] . And [the Dominican] Victor White [God and the Unconscious]  . . . . H. N. Frye’s Blake [Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake by Northrop Frye]  is best exposition of contemporary gnosticism . . . plus Thomson’s Melville [Melville’s Quarrel with God by Lawrance Thompson] .
A footnote (p. 237) explains more about the three Dominicans mentioned. Giordano Bruno’s  name “appears repeatedly in Finnegans Wake .” Girolamo Savonarola  was a “popular preacher.” Tommaso Campanella was the “author of Civitas solis  (. . . The City of the Sun)”, a utopian work.
McLuhan makes another relevant point (p. 238):
. . . our six children make a complex life for us, in a way which 25 years ago they would not. The disappearance of servants and large house (not unplanned) is linked to the Manichean  hatred of the family, and the Church . . . culpable in allowing this concerted campaign to be met only by sporadic individual . . . resistance.
He complains about the Catholics “dispersing talent instead of concentrating it . . . ”
This letter shows that McLuhan is aware of how society is planned, which unfortunately is very relevant to the various public figures he interacted with as his career progressed. He is also aware that part of this agenda is undermining the family and admits that the Church is guilty of rolling over to it.
Additional Information Areas for Further Research
Note: unless specified otherwise, web references are cited as accessed on or before March 10, 2018.
 Letters of Marshall McLuhan (1987). Selected and Edited by: Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, William Toye. Oxford University Press, 1987.
 Alexander Pope
 Jonathan Swift
 T. S. Eliot
The Waste Land
 James Joyce
 Wyndham Lewis
Author of Time and Western Man and other works
 Ezra Pound
 Walter J. Ong
 Eric Voegelin
 Joachim of Floris (and variations on the name)
 Karl Marx
 Protestant Reformation
 Petrus Ramus
 Dominican Order
In fact, we do not know the exact grounds on which he was declared a heretic because his file is missing from the records
 Girolamo Savonarola
 Tommaso Campanella
The City of the Sun
 Jacques Maritain
Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry
 Victor White
God and the Unconscious
 Northrop Frye
Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake
 Lawrance Thompson
Melville’s Quarrel with God
Interesting: needs further research
 Mani and Manichaeism
Form of Gnosticism: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Manichaeism
Information on marriage, sex and having children:
http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku/august.htm (about St. Augustine)
Note: Nowadays, under intense propaganda, people–younger generations especially–are more and more considering marriage and family as something objectionable (or not necessary)–at the same time as being dosed in veganism and vegetarianism (the diet of slaves as in Plato’s totalitarian Republic), which is the most unnatural thing, especially since it’s really about subsisting on genetically modified soy. My understanding is that one of the supposed reasons (or rationalizations) behind vegetarianism in ancient times related to the doctrine of reincarnation and animals having souls also. More likely it was also a social engineering tool for limiting mental and reproductive power in the lower classes.
We have had a lot of Gnostic revivalism, occultism and New Age doctrines (which seem to be from oligarchical sources, e.g. Changing Images of Man and the Esalen Institute). This is a big topic which I’ve covered partially in my series on Brave New World Policies, relating to Aldous Huxley’s novel and his mind-control drug and religious activities. In his novel also, people were not allowed to reproduce. Now, soy is being pushed big-time (really, it’s mostly GMO soy, blessed by George Bush Sr. himself), and there are literally opposite statements being made about it online as with certain other topics (like climate change), so it needs to be studied in depth in order to separate out the false statements.
The Apostle Paul had something to say about these competing views to the new Christian religion. It all keeps coming round–speculatively from the same type of trouble-making population-reducing oligarchs in his time:
1 Timothy 4
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy [e.g., hypocrites burning fuel, eating meat, having children]; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats [NIV: “certain foods”, which I think is likely to be vegetarianism vs. meat-eating rather than unclean vs. clean meats], which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
To be continued: Part 6.4
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