Secularisation and the Neo-apocalypse: More Apocalii than ever before!
Posted by Regrette Etcetera on October 8, 2010
Selected Preliminary publications of the Fauxist Post-Apocalypse Consultancy Agency (2007 onward)
Fauxist publications associated with the Post-Apocalypse Consultancy Agency & Museum of the Apocalypse:
By James Glick. Previously published in The Journal of Comparative Practices pp.363-8, vol.14, iss.4, 2008.
– Technology & Transmission
– Key Changes in the Secular Neo-Apocalii:
– Key terms of discourse around the Neo-Apocalii:
– Au seuil de l’apocalypse
– Rationalization of the Rapture
Many people ask us, and You may wonder, how we can speak of ‘apocalii’, (a rendering of apocalypse plural, to trouble the Biblical/monotheistic origin of ‘The’ apocalypse) when the revelation of St. John is the apocalypse, and so, We’ve produced a short tract on what we call the Neo-apocalypse, and on the growth of the genre We call Secular Apocalii. Secular apocalli have proliferated in type, scope and representation. So much so that we felt it important to understand more about them.
The Fauxists started out by asking:
What function does apocalyptic thinking fulfil in contemporary societies?
What does the apocalyptic narrative account for?
Technology & Transmission (Excerpt)
The rapid proliferation of the Secular Neo-Apocalii is facilitated by contemporary cultural technologies, namely those of the Information Revolution. ‘Historically’ representations of the Apocalypse spread and morphed slowly (generally represented as similar for hundreds of years) via books, painting and prints. ‘Now’ we see endlessly repeated and embellished versions of the end in movies- the mythology makers of our times. Websites, personal apocalii, PR image machines, consultancy culture. This area of cultural production has become so profligate and dissolute that one sometimes detects a frisson of smug or hysterical pleasure in both producers and the public born of ‘overexpossure’ or over-familiarity with such a plethora of competing and transient apocalyptic scenarios.
Key Changes in the Secular Neo-Apocalii:
– Faith and optimism have disappeared, replaced by imaginative but definitive end scenarios of Undifferentiated Punishment, inescapable and insidious permutations of a ‘Mankind’ beyond renovation, a degeneracy so complete that the ending can only be so too.
– The sense of permanent crisis coexists with the notion that the conclusive catastrophe has already occurred.
-Some Fauxists call these contemporary forms “neo-apocalyptic”. The psychic need for the idea of a New Jerusalem, a utopia remains and points out a path out.
-The idea of a secular utopia is essential to Modernism, and what we think of modern or modernist always relatively apocalyptic, vis the Futurists, the Bomb, the Holocaust, Corporate capitalism, Colonialisms.
-The Judgement component of the apocalypse becomes further complicated under Postmodernism, with the relativity and pluralism of all belief, and questioning of ‘dominant narratives’ further undermining the post-apocalypses of modern political visionaries etc thereby enhancing the ‘nihilistic’ bent of secular neo-apocalii…
– Given centuries of Christian conditioning, the western world was always going to meld apocalypse and palingenesis in the imagery of decadence.
– The apocalyptic straddles the border of theology and psychopathology- feeding the glutted indifference of a jaded public.
Key terms of discourse around the Neo-Apocalii:
– The fundamental suicidal absurdity that lies at the centre of patriarchal culture
– The New Ephemeralism
– The pervading sense of radical futurelessness due to an expectation of annihilation in our lifetimes,
– The sense of radical absurdity, psychic numbing, and identification with and even worshipping of the bomb, the bug, the flood…
Au seuil de l’apocalypse
Apocalypticism is one of those realms where the ideological spectrum bends into a circle and the extremes meet. The nuttiest religious weirdos of every stripe agree that the present “hell in the ‘Middle East'” is a hopeful sign of the end-times, that an Antichrist will temporarily take control of the world. Some Muslims expect him to be a Western Jew; in many Christian versions, he comes to power through the European Union. For both sects as well as the New Age psychedeloids, apocalypse still has its original meaning—revelation, the appearance of God following destruction, revelation, unveiling.
Apocalypse has long furnished the key to human history, fascinating ‘the Jews’ and their ‘Christian offspring’ for the last 2200 years. The Apocalyptic is the mother of Christian theology.
Simply put, Religion is about dealing with death, a banal truth. The apocalypse then, by defining human suffering in cosmic terms, as part of a cosmic order, allows catastrophe to be dignified, endowed with meaning, and hence made bearable. As such, Apocalyptic thought acts like a mirror held up to each age, portraits of the attempts by each era to understand itself in relation to an all-embracing scheme of history or apparent set of ‘plans’.
Joining pessimism and optimism together, the millenarian message is infinitely adaptable to the circumstances of any age.
Rationalization of the Rapture (Excerpt)
Early forces of rationalization, enlightenment and textual criticism cleared most of the supernatural out of Christian beliefs, and with the continuing disintegration of consensual religion and the waning prestige of magic- particularly in the 19th c heyday of secularism- the Christian revolution would be surpassed by the human revolution. It’s goals: Saving humankind without spiritual intervention- rational, political schemes and turmoils etc. A fitting example of such disenchantment may be that of the heavens.
Apocalyptic beliefs are one of great bridges between medieval and modern times. Modernity is necessarily about the passing of the present, of ourselves, of current fantasies we assume as norms, of trends and fashions that have decay built in. The idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection is Our favourite modern mythology. Thus the doctrine of the ‘second coming’, the Parousia, is deeply uncongenial to the whole evolutionary and developmental character of modern thought. The apocalypse is often too radically excessive, too emotional- and has been swept out of modern Christianity by embarrassed scholars.
In looking at the apocalyptic narrative throughout history, cross-culturally, We find that Apocalyptic thought and literature traditionally fulfilled a function of comforting people whose lives were/are overwhelmed by historical or social disruption- a judgement to maintain faith for eventual reward. Here, the operative word is Order, for the imposition of the apocalyptic model onto one’s experience is a feasible, if extreme, way of making sense of dislocating historical events, a sense-making impulse of ancient lineage. The dialectic between now (suffering, travail, oppression) and not yet (redemption, emancipation, triumph), between revolutionary desires of destabilizing authority and the status quo, has led to the optimistic content of the apocalypse (particularly for Oppressed people).
‘Currently’, in the second half of the ‘20th century’, the new narratives and types of apocalypse have lost the optimistic slant of those more traditional. The apocalyptic genre seems to have emancipated itself from its historical and biblical roots, so that there is no common agreement on the form, content, or function of apocalyptic thinking and writing. This altered form of the apocalyptic paradigm retains some of the elements of the traditional story, but often leaves out the element of New Jerusalem, the divine kingdom that was the reward for the faithful. The result is that a story which was once grounded in hope about the future has become instead a reflection of fears and disillusionment about the present, a bleak shift in emphasis from the belief in an ordered universe with a cogent history to one in which the overriding sense is of a chaotic, indifferent, and possibly meaningless universe, a shift to a focus on cataclysm. An example is ‘Biocentric millenarianism’. Read as: “The Goddess-Mother is calling for us to monkey-wrench the millennium”, this form of apocalypticism recommends a radical White Luddism, a war on machines and tools in a continuing campaign against ‘civilization’ until collapse or cataclysm ends contemporary horrors and brings “imminent, ultimate, collectice, this-worldly salvation” (Ecodefense: A field guide to monkey-wrenching 1973). Groups like Earth First! Believe they’ll be one of the remaining remnants that would allow it to recreate the post-apoc world, and begin anew, another Pleistocene era.