Friday, April 20, 2007
MORE ON MERTON
From Susanna's email:
Although I have also been searching, I haven't been able to find a direct link between Thomas Merton and "Bishop" Louis Giraud either. However, since Merton was a contemporary of both Bricaud and Giraud, I am still trying to track down any indirect influences that may have existed - especially during the time Merton spent in Europe as an adult.
But even if Merton wasn't directly involved with Bricaud, Giraud & Co, he was nevertheless influenced indirectly by the teachings of one of their confreres, Rene Guenon, who, as you know, was not only personally acquainted with Papus, Bricaud, Giraud et al, but also functioned as a gnostic bishop before his final conversion to Sufism. At this time, many of the Martinist Orders were advocating "synarchy" ( St. Yves d'Alveydre ) which, among other things, sought to merge the occult with politics. This would seem to have squared quite well with "Traditionalism."
Even though Rene Guenon was also Merton's contemporary, I haven't found any evidence that Guenon and Merton knew each other. Guenon's influence on Merton seems to have been indirect - through the writings of Aldous Huxley.
Source: Rene Guenon Biography
Against the Modern World:
Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century
Here is another interesting fact about Thomas Merton; when he was at Columbia University after his brief and morally disastrous sojourn at Cambridge, Merton became, for a very brief time, a member of the Young Communist League:
"After Merton arrived in New York he enrolled as a sophomore at Columbia University for the January term of 1935, with the intention of studying literature. Given the tenor of the times it does not surprise us that he joined, for a very brief period (in fact, he attended one meeting), the Young Communist League (under the somewhat risible party name of Frank Swift)."
Source: Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision