An Important Bulletin from the Millennial Vortex: We Have Defeated the Racist Tea Baggers!
Landes first draws a very helpful distinction between "apocalyptic time" and "normal time." Normal time is, well, normal. For most people, if that's the only time there is, it's rather boring. All of us like to dilate time, jump in, and abide in the sanctified real estate of nonlocal slack. Nothing wrong with that.
But something else happens to time when we are "plunged into the vortex of messianic expectation." In my opinion -- and we'll get into this in more detail later -- two things happen.
First, this is when there is a transformation within the self, resulting in the millennial dream containing us, rather than vice versa. It is no longer something we can think about, because we are in it. Compare it to the mob mentality, in which people become ecstatically disinhibited and do things they wouldn't do in the absence of the mob.
But secondly -- and more importantly -- there is an intoxicating transition to a more right-hemispheric, symmetrical mode of consciousness that partakes of various categories of transcendence, including timelessness, magical thinking, great strength and power, and a special closeness to the very forces and levers of history.
I'm not going to go into detail at this juncture -- mainly because I haven't yet explicitly worked it all out in my head -- but this follows the ideas of the Chilean psychoanalyst and mathematician Ignacio Matte Blanco, especially as interpreted by Bomford in his Symmetry of God.
(And if any Raccoons have been discouraged from purchasing this book because of the price, I see that amazon has a number of used copies available for under $8. I don't want to oversell it -- the author's theology is on the liberal side -- but there is simply no other book that explores these important ideas. It serves as an accessible introduction to Matte Blanco, who is a major influence, and opens up many fruitful avenues of contemplation and study, providing a way not only to "think about God" but to "think about thinking about God" -- and why it is both necessary and unavoidable that human beings do so.)
(To put it another way, if one doesn't think about God in the proper manner, one will inevitably do so in an improper manner -- which is precisely the problem that infects millennial thinking, irrespective of whether one's religion is Christianity or leftism or atheism. In fact, history proves that atheistic millennialists are by far the more destructive, and that both Judaism and Christianity, properly construed, are mankind's most effective defense against raving millennialists of every stripe. "Indeed, if the last two centuries have told us anything, it is how dangerous those who would perfect the world become when they seize power" [Landes].)
In any event, the plunge into symmetrical logic helps to explain the psychic transformation that occurs when we are pulled into the phase space of the millennial attractor -- when the "inspired prophet" resonates with the "receptive community"; when, "in the expectation of an immanent and radical transformation of the world, [the group] 'burns bridges' to the 'normal future' and 'goes for broke,'" and we "participate in the glorious End of History" (Landes). (Remember James Carville's 2009 classic, 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation? Nor will anyone else.)
Again, I don't want to push the evidence too far -- in part because it's just too easy to do -- but I cannot help interpreting Obamania in this light, as millions of Americans -- now finally including the MSM -- are returning to Normal Time, and for the first time seeing Obama as those of us who never left normal political time have always seen our dear leader-in-the-headlights: as an inept, incurious, rigid, self-absorbed, inarticulate, and unqualified mediocrity of slightly below average intelligence and zero charisma.
Obviously, he has always been this. He hasn't changed. How can one go from awesome to pathetic with the flick of a switch? The only way is projection followed by its sudden withdrawal. Of course, it is hardly a crime to be a nonentity. The crime is in trying to con the rest of us into believing in this emperor's new empty suit.
More importantly, what was the real and enduring source of the misperception, which happens again and again, throughout recorded history? As Landes asks, "How many times... must apocalyptic prophecy fail, before it loses its promise?"
More on that question later. Suffice it to say that all around us, and at all times, there are "hidden transcripts" which, "under the right -- apocalyptic -- conditions -- ... can spread at epidemic speeds and breach the public transcript with explosive force" (Landes).
This is an irruption of unconscious into conscious -- or an obliteration of the boundary between them -- but the important point is that this ingression is structured in a very specific way. It is not as if one is immersed in a world of unstructured psychotic chaos.
Once one enters the vortex of apocalyptic time -- which, in my opinion, partakes of the symmetrical time of the unconscious -- "everything quickens, enlivens, coheres. [Believers] become semiotically aroused -- everything has meaning, patterns. The smallest incident can have immense importance and open the way to an entirely new vision of the world, one in which forces unseen by other mortals operate" and "they can make connections and intuit relations at levels that escape most of us with pedestrian minds" (Landes).
Here again, Matte Blanco's theories apply, for they explain how time becomes eternity, how the small becomes immense (a kind of insistent misinterpretation of "blessed are the poor in spirit"), and how anything means everything (and vice versa).
"Semiotic arousal" is one of Landes' frequent terms. It basically means a kind of self-reinforcing hyper-alertness to signs that confirm the basic premise -- which is not so much a premise, but again, a specific state of mind. It is essentially identical to the manner in which the paranoid mind operates, which sees complex and meaningful connecting links where there are none.
Rather, the paranoid person is specifically engaged in an indiscriminate projection of the contents of his own mind, which provides a kind of relief. But the relief is short lived, because now he is persecuted by the environment, i.e., by his own exteriorized mind. He then attempts to force all of the disconnected bits to cohere by organizing them into a monolithic conspiratorial entity. Once one reaches this stage, "everything" is proof of the theory, which simultaneously renders the person systematically stupid and omnisciently arrogant. But enough about Al Gore.
As Landes describes it, the semiotically aroused apocalyptic believer is privileged to have a special understanding of, and insight into, the world (this strikes me as similar to Voeglin's ideas about left-wing gnosticism). They are "convinced of the superiority of their perceptions, convinced that the uncomprehending masses... will either soon join them or get shredded in the coming cosmic upheaval" (Landes).
Indeed, Landes describes such a movement as analogous to an Indian rope trick, in which "believers climb up on something anchored only in hope." To which I would add, Change! -- which is no joke, because Radical Change! is what it's all about. Which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't involve the attempt -- which is by definition doomed before it starts -- to change what cannot be changed, starting with human nature.
Now, because the millennial movement is at odds with reality -- including the reality of human nature -- it can never last. Such movements are inherently unstable, so there will necessarily be a kind of frantic activity which masquerades as thought, but which is actually a kind of "papering over" logical contradictions and intrusions from that annoying Mr. Reality.
Again, Landes calls this apocalyptic jazz, which we are presently seeing in those dead-enders who still hold fast to the Obama fantasy. These are the professional "Baghdad Bobs" of the left, and it is sometimes difficult to know if they actually believe the crap they're shoveling. Most of these Wolfes are presumably too cynical to believe it, but they swiftly throw the memes out there and rely upon their dinghy little sheep to float them to their fellow gullible travelers.