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For the Current 93 album, see Thunder Perfect Mind (album). For the Nurse With Wound album, see Thunder Perfect Mind (Nurse With Wound album).

"The Thunder, Perfect Mind" is a poem discovered among the Gnostic manuscripts at Nag Hammadi in 1945.

For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
The Thunder, Perfect Mind [1]
For it is I who am acquaintance: and lack of acquaintance.
It is I who am reticence: and frankness.
I am shameless: I am ashamed.
I am strong: and I am afraid.
It is I who am war: and peace.
The Thunder - Perfect Intellect, Lines 26-31 from another translation. [2]

Thunder Perfect Mind (the title is, more accurately, The Thunder - Perfect Intellect), takes the form of an extended, riddling monologue, in which an immanent saviour speaks a series of paradoxical statements concerning the divine feminine nature. These paradoxical utterances echo Greek identity riddles, a common poetic form in the Mediterranean. There are some translations to the right from the same section of the poem. Line numbering is different in different translations.

As to dating, Anne McGuire writes: "Thunder, Perfect Mind exists only in the Coptic version found at Nag Hammadi (NHC VI,2:13,1-21,32). The author, date, and place of composition are unknown, but a cultural milieu like that of second- or third-century Alexandria is plausible. In any case, it is clear that the text was originally composed in Greek well before 350 C.E., the approximate date of the Coptic manuscript."[3]

The work as a whole takes the form of a poem in parallel strophes, and the author, it may be surmised, has drawn on a tradition of such poems in both Egyptian and Jewish communities, in which a similarly female divinity (Isis and Sophia respectively) expounds her virtues unto an attentive audience, and exhorts them to strive to attain her. Examples of the genre abound in Old Testament literature.

The riddles of the poem may presuppose a classical Gnostic myth, such as the one found in the Reality of the Rulers, or in the Secret Book of John.

The original language of the poem was Greek, though only a Coptic version survives in the Nag Hammadi library; the manuscript resides in the Cairo Coptic museum.

In contemporary culture

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Codex Tchacos
Askew Codex
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Though the poem is a recent addition to our literature, it has already had an effect on contemporary culture. Excerpts from the poem were used by Toni Morrison as epigraphs to her novels Jazz and Paradise. Umberto Eco includes a portion of it in the introduction to chapter 50 of Foucault's Pendulum; and Larry Lawson and Levi Lee use about a dozen lines in their play Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends (A Final Evening with the Illuminati).

A 2005 film by Jordan Scott (the daughter of Ridley Scott) depicts Canadian model Daria Werbowy moving through various urban scenes (such as a nightclub, the back of a taxi, and around Potsdamer Platz in Berlin), while a recitation from the poem is read in as a form of narrative commentary. A shortened version of the film was used in a Prada advertisement with Canadian supermodel Daria Werbowy, to promote the launch of the fashion house's first perfume. [4] [5]

An April 17, 1998 episode titled "Anamnesis" from the second season of the Millennium TV series dealt with Mary Magdalene and quoted some of "Thunder Perfect Mind."[6][7]

The poem has been used as inspiration for an album by the apocalyptic folk band Current 93 and industrial music band Nurse With Wound. Excerpts from the text are spoken in the song "I Am" by the band Tulku on the album A Universe to Come.

References

  1. ^ 'The Thunder, Perfect Mind'. Full text online. Translated by George W. MacRae. From The Nag Hammadi Library, James M. Robinson, editor. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.
  2. ^ 'The Thunder - Perfect Intellect' in The Gnostic Scriptures, Bentley Layton, editor. SCM Press, London, 1987.
  3. ^ 'The Thunder: Perfect Mind'. Full text online. Translation and notes by Anne McGuire. Diotima. 2000.
  4. ^ May 1, 2005 Boards magazine article "Thunder Perfect Prada" about the Jordan Scott film and the Prada ads made from it.
  5. ^ Online video from 2005 Prada ad by Ridley Scott and daughter Jordan Scott using some text from Thunder Perfect Mind. It is the second video.
  6. ^ Millennium: Anamnesis episode on TV.com. From Millennium (TV series). Original air date was April 17, 1998.
  7. ^ Anamnesis - Millennium Episode Profile - Episode and Credits Guide.







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