Thursday, September 08, 2011

Obama: From Heaven's Gate to Hell's Portal in Four Short Years

Back to those definitions promised in yesterday's post. No, don't surf away! They're quite interesting.

First there is the important distinction between apocalyptic and millennial. For Landes, the former has to do with the End Time, not only that it exists -- which isn't really a problem -- but that it is imminent.

Or, as the Rolling Stones interpreted the mindscape in 1968, a storm is threatnin', a fire sweepin', and war a-comin', all just a shot away. It's like a backdraft situation. All someone has to do is open the door -- or, more likely, kick it in -- and the world is consumed in the purifying/punishing conflagration.

So the apocalyptic involves "a sense of immanence about the great upheaval and the scenario whereby we now go from this evil and corrupt world to the redeemed one" (Landes).

Although the Book of Revelation is all over the apocalypse, Christianity -- in fact, Jesus himself -- also explicitly teaches that one is not to waste time trying to determine when it will occur. It's like trying to figure out when you're going to die. First, you can't do it. Second, it's a waste of your brief allotment of time. Third, if it's fixed in time, you can't do anything about it anyway.

For example, we don't really care if a Mohammedan happens to believe that the 12th imam is going to come down here someday and straighten it all out for us. Fine. Whatever. We only have a problem if they think they can shorten his work or hasten his arrival by, say, acquiring nuclear weapons and blowing Israel off the map. (Speaking of which, I'm not sure if our new Persian cat is working out. See picture below.)

Which makes no sense anyway, because Islam, like Marxism, is completely fatalistic. It never made any sense for Marxists to foment their revolutions, since their own metaphysic insisted that the Revolution would occur necessarily and scientifically, as a result of the workings of the Dialectic.

But as we shall see, the apocalyptic has a deep structure with its own form and momentum. It doesn't matter what kind of intellectualized nonsense people come up with to explain it to themselves, whether "scientific" or religious. From this deeper perspective, scientific Marxism is exactly like a UFO cult, a cargo cult, or even the bizarre Ron Paul cult.

One might say that millenialism is the theory, apocalypticism the application. Thus, apocalyptic believers "tend toward hyperactivity. Indeed, the more impending the end, the more frenetic their behavior" (Landes).

These are people who literally burn their bridges to the past, to the present, and to any future other than their apocalyptic scenario. And I say "literally," because normally we are aware of an implicit temporal bridge that connects one moment to the next.

For the apoplectic apocalypter, it's a zero-sum game. Allah or nothing. Go big or go to hell. Sinner take fall. It is, as Landes says, "totalistic," in my opinion because it again partakes of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious (discussed in yesterday's post), in which past, present, and future are all intermingled, interchangeable, and copresent, as in dream consciousness:

"If one event is before another, then the principle of symmetry states that to the unconscious the second event is also before the first. 'Before' and 'after' thus become meaningless -- all time is simultaneously present" (Bomford).

There are different apocalyptic scenarios: "some are violent and envision cosmic destruction," others "transformative and call for a change of the heart" (Landes). Some are active and "involve human participation," while others are more passive.

Nevertheless, even the passive variety places radical demands upon the believer. Think of the Heaven's Gate cult from a few years back, in which the members auto-raptured themselves in anticipation of being beamed up to the awaiting spaceship.

In this context, eschatology has to do with the specific end envisioned by this or that apocalyptic scenario. In other words, where does this all lead? What's the point?

In secular forms, such as Al Gore's climate hysteria, millions if not billions of ecological sinners perish as a result of our greedy use of fossil fuels. Religious versions often come down to God's final judgment, both of individuals and of the world they made. It is the radical application of cosmic justice, in which everyone finally gets what he deserves, right in the kisser.

Landes draws an important distinction between the secular and religious eschaton. In the former, people either create heaven on earth -- i.e., immanentize the eschaton (Voegelin) -- or face the complete destruction and the annihilation of everything.

If you are old enough to remember, this is how the left attempted to undermine Ronald Reagan's successful strategy of defeating the Soviet Union, by propagating apocalyptic rhetoric and appealing to the "apocalyptic unconscious," so to speak.

Ironically, a big part of this involved an indiscriminate projection of their own apocalyptic fantasies onto Reagan, as if he intended to engage in a nuclear exchange in order to trigger the millennium. They did the same thing to Goldwater in 1964, with their infamous "daisy ad."

Reagan was, like most any Christian, a millennial believer. But he specifically wanted to defeat the Soviet Union by spending them into oblivion, not going to war with them. Obviously, he made the secular apocalyptic scenario less likely, not more likely.

Landes reserves the word millennialism for "the belief that at some point in the future, the world we live in will be radically transformed into one of perfection -- of peace, justice, fellowship, and plenty."

These elements were transparently present in the Obama campaign of 2008. Interestingly, I believe we will see him go from the hopeful millennial script of 2008 to a ferociously apocalyptic one in 2012. Note that until recently, Obama had been able to project the apocalypse into the past, into Bush; now it will have to be projected into the future, but it's the same old apocalypse.

Meet the new Kos, same as the old Kos.

In short, just as in the 1980s, the left will accuse the Republican candidate of wanting to end the world as we know it, of wanting to reward the greedy and evil, overturn justice, set back the clock, chain women to the kitchen, lynch blacks, force back alley abortions, have the elderly eating cat food, and generally impose our Fascist Theocracy™. In other words, the very mirror image of Hope, along with a kind of totalistic Change, only all bad this time.

When lost in the dream time of apocalyptic thought, going from heaven to hell is a matter of the flick of a switch. Obama's doing so is a scandal, really. Let's call it Heavengate.

*****

As promised, our new Persian:

13 Comments:

Blogger robinstarfish said...

Think of the Heaven's Gate cult from a few years back, in which the members auto-raptured themselves in anticipation of being beamed up to the awaiting spaceship.

Well, it DID arrive. They just didn't get down on their hands and knees where they could see it.

9/08/2011 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Poor kitty. The indignity.

We've got a very vocal tomcat terrorizing the neighborhood every night. If I could catch a glimpse of it, I'm guessing it would look like that.

9/08/2011 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh. My. Jihad.

So many questions; I'll leave it at this one: Does it purr, or just cry "ululululululu"?

Back to reading...

9/08/2011 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Oddly enough, cats are holy animals in Islam.

9/08/2011 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...Islam, like Marxism, is completely fatalistic. It never made any sense for Marxists to impose their revolutions ...

Though fatalistic, they cannot trust Allah or History, hence they got no slack.

9/08/2011 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jason T. said...

Back in the day I used to relish the idea of The End, often citing some of my favorite lyrics from the psychedelic group Tool:

I'm praying for rain,
I'm praying for tidal waves,
I want to see the ground give way,
I want to watch it all go down,
Mom please flush it all way.

Don't just call me a pessimist,
Try and read between the lines,
I can't imagine why you wouldn't Welcome any change my friends.

I want to see it go down,
Suck it down,
Suck it down,
Flush it down.

This was frequently accompanied by my own little speech, which was in truth all bluff and no balls, that went something along the lines of "Dude, out of all the people that have ever lived in the history of the world, if we are the ones who get to see the Big Enchilada, the Apocalyptic Rapture in all it glory, we should consider ourselves lucky. Our life is a small price to pay for a personalized experience of such and event. When it goes down I am pulling up a freaking lawn chair and firing up a doobie."

Of course, then I started applying Zen meditation techniques and insights to my life, which clued me into the reality of my own death and the interdependent nature of Nature, and it cleared that bug up pretty quick. I realized my nuclear-bubble bluster and excitement as a projection of my own death fear onto a global or even cosmic scale: "I may be dying but I ain't going alone...bring that shit on!"

9/08/2011 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

These are people who literally burn their bridges to the past, to the present, and to any future other than their apocalyptic scenario.

I'm reminded of the followers of Harold Camping, some of whom gave away all their worldly goods in preparation for May 21st of this year. They may not have taken it to the extreme of the Heaven's Gate cult, but I can't help wondering just how many bridges they've burned in their certainty that the end was there? To a personal degree, it must truly have been apocalyptic, just not in the way they imagined.

I wonder, is the mentality of people convinced they know the specifics anything like the mentality of the gambler who's certain that this time the slots are going to payoff or their numbers just have to line up with that massive Powerball draw? Come to think of it, counting on the lottery probably is a form of millenialism, as well...

9/08/2011 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Imagine two buttons on the bedside:

(A)-- Get up. Go to work, and put up with one more day o' this shit.

(B)-- Apocalypse? Sure. Screwit, just end the whole damn mess.

It's those B button days. We all have them. There's very little consequence for the world if I have one.

I don't want moslems with nukes having one of those B-button days.

JWM

9/08/2011 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Hey, Cat, Did the Dog put you up to that stunt?

JWM

9/08/2011 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, Oh, my goddess! I think they just had their apocalypse...

9/08/2011 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

JWM @3:05 -- that is a great illustration.

9/08/2011 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Which makes no sense anyway, because Islam, like Marxism, is completely fatalistic. It never made any sense for Marxists to foment their revolutions, since their own metaphysic insisted that the Revolution would occur necessarily and scientifically, as a result of the workings of the Dialectic. "

Yeah, seems that whenever the 'science is settled', that means it requires massive government effort to keep it settled.

9/09/2011 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

... nice kitty... no... down, down... stay....

9/09/2011 06:40:00 AM  

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