How Adam Kadmon Made the Leap From The Kabbalah to Italian Television

Primordial Man Has Had a Long, Strange History

Portrait of the Artist as Primordial Man: Despite his Hebrew name, there’s no need to suspect that Adam Kadmon is Jewish. He has made appearances in Theosophy and in the work of James Joyce.
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Portrait of the Artist as Primordial Man: Despite his Hebrew name, there’s no need to suspect that Adam Kadmon is Jewish. He has made appearances in Theosophy and in the work of James Joyce.

By Philologos

Published April 21, 2013, issue of April 26, 2013.
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The Adam Kadmon of Italian television is unlikely to have read “Ulysses,” much less Gershom Scholem or Madame Blavatsky’s glossary. A book that he is likely to have encountered, however, is the Serbo-Croatian novelist Milorad Pavić’s “Dictionary of the Khazars,” which first appeared in Belgrade in 1984. Also referred to in the novel as Adam Ruhani (Hebrew for “spiritual man”) and Adam-the-precursor, Adam Cadmon (Pavić’s spelling) thinks in dreams; all “dream hunters,” the spiritual detectives of Pavić’s novel, “plunge into other people’s dreams and sleep and from them extract little pieces of Adam-the-precursor’s being, composing them into a whole.” By doing this, and dreaming about “their [own] part of Adam Cadmon’s body,” the dream hunters repair a humanly fractured world and restore unity to its dissension.

Translated into many languages, including English in 1988, “Dictionary of the Khazars” subsequently became something of a cult book among New Age readers with a taste for the esoteric. Can it be a coincidence that the Italian Adam Kadmon first made his appearance under that name in 1986, two years after the publication of Pavić’s novel? The name certainly would have seemed, on the basis of reading or hearing about “Dictionary of the Khazars,” an appropriate pseudonym for a peace activist to take for himself.

Our masked sleuth must have dabbled in other books, too, for his official blog site speaks of Adam Kadmon being at war with the evil Yaldabaoth, the chief demiurge or ruler of the material world in classical Gnostic theology, which greatly influenced Theosophical thought. (Yaldabaoth is an ancient Greek corruption of Hebrew yoled or yeled, “parent of” or “child of,” and elohei ts’va’ot “God of Hosts.”) In Gnosticism, Yaldabaoth and his evil Archons or plenipotentiaries are the rulers of the material universe. Presumably, they are also the gods of the Illuminati, who conspire to take over the world that Adam Kadmon is trying to save.

It wouldn’t make a bad video game. One can’t wait to see who wins.

Questions for Philologos can be sent to philologos@forward.com


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