Feeling Pretty Psyched

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So here it is, the Mayan Calendar has hit the end of the 13th Baktun, the Blue Kachina will be born to dance in the pueblos of the Hopi, our plane of existence will merge with the Supercontext and we will all know ourselves as what we are, pure spirit, that life is a game and God loves us all. I’m going to hang out with friends, jam and probably get a bit drunk.

December 21st, 2012 has been a special date for me for a while now, mainly because it was such a prominent plot point in Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, a comic about chaos magicians fighting ancient conspiracies run by eldritch abominations. It sort of became the charter myth of my adolescence for a while, still kind of is though Mage: the Ascension has been mixed in with it. So I’ve been pretty focused on this date, even coming up with an entire trilogy of novels as a teenager based on this date. It would have been bad and silly, would have ripped of the plot of Seven Samurai of all things, casting it against the backdrop of Apocalypse, and involved a man trying to do a musical version of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. I’ve worked out what I hope to be a better 2012 novel, which won’t be dated by Saturday. It involves a rag-tag group of magicians trying to align humanity’s chakras or whatever before the Mayan Calender runs out. It’s Magic Realism and it’s a comedy.

So besides the Mayan Apocalypse I have had something of an interesting time. I had my first romantic relationship, which wasn’t so much a relationship as a long fling, which ended in disaster and heartbreak. It’s been awhile so I’m fine talking about it, but not in great detail. To put it into some perspective, I spent the last few days after meeting her with my heart-broken more than it has ever been broken before, before realizing with the help with my parents that this woman couldn’t love me in any way that would have helped me. I bring this up because I see a certain resonance between the emotional breakdown I just went through and the alleged upcoming Doomsday.

Back to said Doomsday, I believe it’s  only fair to say that the Mayans don’t think it’s the end of the world. Yes, the Mayans are alive. I was surprised as anyone to hear that. They’re doing alright everything considered, since they have experts to deal with their calendar, such as it is. Observe the following article, found on CNN.

“It’s an era. We are lucky to see how it ends,” said wood carver Santos Esteban in Yaxuna, a sleepy village of fewer than 700 Mayans, located in a territory that once belonged to the ancient kingdom founded around 2000 B.C.

He feels it is a momentous occasion and is looking forward to the start of the new age. He is not afraid.

“Lots of people say it’s the end of the world, but we don’t believe that,” he said.

I’ve been aware of this interpretation for a while. It’s been the one I’ve favoured for the most part, since Doomsday is kind of a downer. At the very least, the Mayans are restarting their calendar and Terrence McKenna shouldn’t have taken the voices of aliens he meet via psychedelics so seriously. The fact remains as to why the Mayan Apocalypse is said to be the end of the world by crazy survivalists and jokers on the Internet. I’ve been getting all kinds of memes that say Galactus is going to eat us or there will be zombies eating us (Will people just shut up about the zombies already), but it all comes down to us being devoured by something or other. Meteors are popular too, in which case we will all be devoured in flame I suppose.

Basically, people want to world to end because we all kind of know our current system is fucked. I mean really, the environment is going through drastic changes and we’re saying that God wants to punish us for gay marriage. If God is going to punish us for anything, which Divine Love will probably prevent, it’s going to be messing with the balance of the ecosystem. I found an article on this sort of thing on Boing Boing.

And that aspect of human nature exposes the real impetus behind our childlike fascination with end times. People everywhere yearn for inner change – for a way to detach from the cycle of routine daily existence, with its conflicts, habits, addictions, worries, and boredoms. We’re surrounded by therapeutic and religious ideas – yet the wish for change and personal fulfillment is almost always unfulfilled. So, in our frustration, we look without. We hope that some kind of seismic shift will rescue us from the inability to alter ourselves. Scary as it may be, the end of what we know promises to rupture old patterns and push us toward something new.

So there it is. We want something to shock us out of the sink hole of a civilization we have found ourselves in. We’re to cozy and we know it, so we try to come up with stories about a sharp enough shock to get us out of the funk materialism and capitalism has put on us. I include myself in this, I will probably shortly revert to my usual ways of fiddling around on the Internet and generally screwing around.

After the break-up with the girlfriend, a relationship that was a huge mistake looking back, I believe I have come out stronger, knowing more about myself and my desires. I have gone through a change, but considering it all now I don’t know how big of a change this actually is. I remember her saying something about spiritually awakening me, but I am doubtful she ever had that capability and was just saying that to keep me around. I do feel, after going out with her and the disastrous emotional break down she put me through, that I have undergone a change, and I feel better for it. All in all, I am expecting 2013 to be a very good year for me.

FURTHER READING

Ben Brumfield, “Some believe Friday is doomsday on the Mayan Calendar; the Mayans don’t”

Horowitz, Mitch. “Once More Awaiting ‘The End'”

The Problem of Chomsky

Anyone following the career of Noam Chomsky is soon confronted with a problem. In fact, it has become known as the “Chomsky problem”. Chomsky has achieved eminence in two very different fields, theoretical linguistics and political commentary. The “Chomsky problem” is that his approaches to these fields appear to contradict each other. In politics Chomsky is a radical, but in linguistics he takes positions that can easily be characterized as reactionary. He treats linguistics as a branch of biology. He traces language to a “Universal Grammar” resident in the physical brain. He believes that our linguistic nature is hard-wired into our genes. Because they diminish the influence of environment on human behaviour, such claims can be used to suggest that certain modes of social organization are natural and immutable. As a result, they have often been associated with conservative politics.

Chomsky himself professes to see no problem. He believes that linguistics is a natural science, and research in the natural sciences must be objective and based on the evidence alone. Indeed, part of the researcher’s job is to divest himself of his cultural and political prejudices before entering the laboratory. These methodological principles were established by the seventeenth-century scientific revolution of Newton and the Royal Society, which was in Chomsky’s view a progressive development and an immeasurable boon to humanity. He sees no reason why the methods of the natural sciences should not be applied to the study of the human mind.

His critics caution that empirical science is closely linked, certainly historically and perhaps conceptually, to capitalist political economy. These discourses both emerge in late seventeenth-century England, and they conquer the world together. Surely this suggests an affinity that ought to trouble those who advocate one but castigate the other? The interviews now published as The Science of Language and How the World Works show that this paradox is at least playing on Chomsky’s mind. The conversations range promiscuously, and although one book is largely concerned with linguistics while the other is mainly political, Chomsky seems happier than usual to discuss the mutual implications of his two fields of interest.

“How Noam Chomsky’s World Works,” by David Hawkes

I’ve been something on a William Blake kick since I’ve started reading his biography by Ackroyd. Hanging out with William Blake has been a pretty awesome experience, as he gives some of my anxieties and ideas more form. He’s what I like to consider a memetic ancestor, he’s the figure that stands at the crux of stuff that has affected my life. Without William Blake there would be no Allen Ginsberg, no William S. Burroughs, no Mage: the Ascension, no Doors, no nothing. When I ever get around to setting up that Voodoo Ancestor Altar, I may even set up a place for Memetic Ancestors like William Blake. I’m certain he’s somekind of Saint, and that if I were to contact him with spiritualist techniques he would respond.

Anyways, I bring up William Blake now because my reading of his biography has brought up some interesting aspects when met with the above article. I’m sure you all know about Noam Chomsky, who’s a local demagogue of linguistics and rallier against the Capitalist Man. As you can see there is a problem in his thinking that brings up a problem. Chomsky is a scientist, using scientific principles on the subject of language, and thus he is blind to the affect science has had in the creation of the system he now fights against. While he is a child of Newton, as the early post brings up, he fails to see that the mechanical nature of the Industrial-Scientific World has helped create the Rex Mundi that is capitalism.

Is it wrong to assume that Capital is an evil spirit? A Self-directing entity that has gained incredible control over our area of the universe? The idea dosen’t really seem so outrageous to me. I’m an aspiring magician, and as such I will have to deal with many things that I can’t actually perceive, at least not right now. This is a problem for the Newtonian Chomsky however.

This Chomsky cannot do. The logical conclusion of his political commentary is that capital acts as an independent agent, insinuating itself into the human mind and systematically perverting it. But this is incompatible with his scientific assumption that the mind is merely an “emergent property” of the physical brain. As Chomsky himself reminds us, the idea that human beings are purely physical entities, devoid of discarnate qualities such as mind, spirit or soul (or indeed ideas), has become plausible only over the past three centuries. Thomas Kuhn refers to this as a “paradigm shift”, but Chomsky rejects the concept because it implies that scientific truth is historically relative. For him, the Galilean revolution of the seventeenth century was simply an unprecedented, almost miraculous leap forward, and he sees it as his task to extend this revolution to areas, such as linguistics, in which its impact has been delayed. He does not attempt to explain why it occurred in the first place.

This ultimately leads to the problem that humans are objects, which is ironic since under this time money has become a spiritual entity. Money is without body, yet it affects us all. In some respects, pre-Enlightenment folks may have not been wrong in saying that the world will end. It already has. The Great Beast has taken it’s form as Capitol, and now has much more influence then any religious body.

The problem, as the article points out, is that we have become objects to be sold on the open market. We have forgotten that we have souls. It is time that we start to remember that we have them. Only when we take back our spirits from the machine of capitalism, or as Blake put it “these dark Satanic mills,” will we trulley be free.

Responce to Diamanda Hagan’s Apocalypse Reviews – Part 2: The Christian Narrative

One of the main problems with the rapture narratives of Fundamentalist Christians is that it is basically the same story. The Rapture comes, the Antichrist takes over the world, an intrepid group of Christians fight against the Fascist World State, throw in a redemption plot and repeat as necessary. The sameness of these plots can be explained in that all of these Rapture stories are generally retellings of the same story, i.e. The Book of Revelations. All in all I have nothing against the retelling of stories, but I have a problem with the ideas behind the Rapture narrative that I believe distract from the message of Jesus Christ. I will also go on into why I feel that stuff like this exists in the first place, and how I feel Christianity should be approched.

Manichean Duality and Why It’s Silly

As far as the Apocalypse Quartet goes, the stories don’t differentiate much from each other. You have the intrepid group of Christian Fundamentalists (good) and obnoxiously Antichrist (evil). In between you have the “hero” of the story, a non-Christian who after many trials involving weird pseudoscience, fascistic secret police and a hammy Antichrist becomes a Christian and is never heard from again. They are then never heard from again. They are also usually played by minor celebrities, which I imagine is a way to give fundamentalist Christianity legitimacy. As much legitimacy as Mr. T can provide anyways.

Theologically, the movies work on a Fundamentalist reading of  the Book of Revelations, which is where the movies really suffer. They offer no room for questioning the doctrine, and what doctrine that exists is shoved down the viewer’s throat like a very large communion wafer. When the characters are good, they are exemplars of purity. When they are evil, they are so damn hammy that it totally looses any credibility. The redemption plot offers a character that hangs between the two, but for the most part they end up joining the ranks of the Christian fundamentalists, and then disappearing to make way for the redemption arc of the next movie.

I have problems with this on a theological level, as well as a narrative one. In the end both of these are probably going to be the same. The first one is that the way good and evil is portrayed in these movies is really Manichean. As Hagan herself states “the goodies and the badies must be as clearly signposted as possible or the little baby Jesus will cry.” While Good Vrs Evil is a common theme in most narratives, it is usually done with a bit more subtlety. Yes, the show takes place in a fascist state, but the presence of the a gloating evil is just silly and insulting. Pure evil, if it exists, can not survive in the ambiguous atmosphere of our reality, let alone in a human vessel. When you have people kicking dogs because they are evil, this just moves the story into the realm of camp. unfortunately due to the homophobic nature of the religious right, they can’t do camp right. Nor would they want too, the film is meant to be taken seriously.

My problem with this is nothing I can really explain in perfectly theological terms except for he fact that the world doesn’t work like that, nor does religion. The fact is that no one is ever a hundred percent good or evil. Actually, I can bring that in Christian terms with the notion of sin. In Christianity, everyone sins. It’s like a brain virus that cuts one of from communication with God. Being a hundred percent “good” is impossible in this concept, because even if you are the greatest person in the world, you aren’t in a full relationship with God. Likewise, you can’t be fully evil because even though we are blocked of by the sin virus, God is still communicating with all of us through various means, possibly extending to everything we perceive, and even if someone was to completely devolve into sin I highly doubt they would become that…odvious. They would all likely be turned into something beyond human understanding, and as such beyond the bounds of human concepts such as camp.

And while we’re on the subject, being a Christian does not give you a sin-free card. Just saying that you accept the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God and that Jesus became human and died for our sins does not mean you are inherently sin-free or that you have a free card for the rest of your life to do whatever. Being a Christian means you acknowledge the world is fucked up, but that God (i.e. a state of non-fucked-ness) incarnated itself into a human being so that you can become non-fucked up. And that human being was not an easy person to exemplify.

The Christian Narrative

There is a story I heard where a liberal Christian was talking to a fundamentalist Christian who were arguing about the nature of Jesus. Liberal Christian viewed Jesus Christ as the Jesus of the gospels, a hippie who wandered the land and was brutally executed by the state. The fundamentalist Christian preferred to think of the Jesus of the Revelations, Chuck Norris with a fiery sword. Since these views of Christ are kind of in conflict, a debate grew up. The fundamentalist ended by basically saying “I don’t want to pray to any God I could beat up.” In here we have a major flaw in the Revelations-centric view of Christianity. Yes, Gospel Jesus is a “wimp,” in the conventional sense of the word. He does not fight back when the Man comes to get him, and he dies what in any normal sense is a shameful, pointless and violent death. Despite this, you still can’t beat up Gospel Jesus for the simple fact that you can‘t kill him! He only returns from the dead three days later. You can’t beat something that doesn’t die.

In the end, this is Christianity distilled. The world is a messed up place, were the strong prey upon the weak, but the weak can take comfort in the fact that God is one of them, literally. You can say that this creates a group of sheep people, but it can also be said that by incarnating himself into Jesus Christ, God is making a political statement against injustice. Do not hurt these guys, they are my people. That the Rapture narratives seek to supplant this image of Jesus troubles me because it is a violent and blatant denial of the image of Jesus Christ that has been the basis of the Christian religion.

Anyways, my point in going on this rant is that this is very different from how God is portrayed in the Rapture narratives. To put it blankly, God is a dick in these movies. He abducts people and takes them away from their families, an activity that is more in line with Stalin than Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God does this suddenly, causing plane crashes and untold damages to other people, and the kicker is that somehow he is supposed to be “the good guy.” This is all very obvious, and Diamanda Hagan has already gone into it, but it also brings up the fact this is not what Christianity is supposed to be. If we are to presume that Christianity at its core is a religion of mimicking the ways of Christ, then the God of the Rapture is against Christ.

TO SEE PART ONE, CLICK HERE.

TO SEE PART THREE, CLICK HERE.

Responce to Diamanda Hagan’s Apocalypse Reviews – Part 1: Personal Background

I watch a lot of internet review shows, and one of my favorites is Diamanda Hagan. She has odd tastes in film, reviewing lesbian-serial-killer-road-trip movies based on Hansel and Gretel, RuPaul vanity projects, Futuristic B-Movies, Black Naziploitation and Far Left Gay Porn. She also does the occasional rapture movie, and has just finished up a four-part series on the Apocalypse Quartet, which is a series of Fundementalist Christian films about what’s going to happen when the world ends. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not seen these movies before but whenever the Rapture comes up I feel some strange need to speak out. So here is my own responce to Diamanda Hagan’s responce to the Apocalypse Quadrilogy, which is really my own responce to the Rapture narrative in general.

Before I go any further reagarding my problems with the Apocalypse Quadrilogy and all it represents, I should elabortate on my own position. I was raised in a Mennonite family, not at Amish levels of technology mind you, but we still embrassed the concept of adult baptism. I went to Church until a certain aspects of Christianity began to great on me. This was mainly a problem with the nature of God and the Church (by Church I mean the orgaization of Christianity as a divinely ordained congregation). The concept of being subsummed into a group terrified me. I also had no understanding of how Jesus and God were supposed to interact, let alone the concept of the Trinity. The concept of Christ’s resurrection also set me off; the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man is not something that a young child is going to easily understand. I do have more of a handle of what this is, but the Resurrection is something I’ll be saving for the end of this.

So let loose from regular Church attendance, I began to do some of my own studies regarding religion. This took me through a long examination of other traditions, ranging from Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism and the Occult. I have also began in recent years to re-examine Christianity, and looking back on things I think it is not unlikely for me to settle on some Christianity. I have grown in my knowledge of the Christian religion, the concstruction of the Bible, and the story of Jesus Christ. This is not to say that I consider myself a “Christian,” whatever that is supposed to be. I do have a respect for the Christian religion in the tradition that I was raised in.

This is part of my reason for writing this, as the Christianity I experienced is in as much conflict with the version of Christianity that is shown in Fundamentalist narratives such as The Apocalypse Quardrilogy without becoming straw satanists. I was never accepted that people who aren’t Christian are going to hell, and I never heard that homosexuals were going to hell. The idea that Jesus was going to come back was always there, but it was more that Jesus was just going to return and everybody would be happy, because hey Jesus is awesome. No one was going to die or disapear, Jesus was going to come to us. We were also a very left-leaning Church, and the associations the Rapture narrative has with the right has always made me wary. Jesus was a radical who got into arguments with the ruling elite, broke major social rules, and wandered 1st century Palestine with a bunch of other guys, like Jack Kerouac without the alcoholism. The God and Jesus of the Fundamentalists is a warrior-God however, and is more in line with a vision of deity that Jesus Christ contradicts.

Another reason is that there are certain beliefs that I hold that are against the narrative of The Apocalypse Quadrilogy. Most of this is the depiction of God, and more importantly God’s relationship with Satan(the Antichrist). If Satan exists, I do not see it to be outside the realm of possibility for him to be working for God. It makes more sense then the idea of Satan being against God, as if God is all-powerful then nothing can stand against him and there is more scriptural validity for God and Satan to have a good working relationship as compared to being enemies. This does upset certain aspects of most people’s narrative, i.e. that God is Good and Satan is Evil. Ultimately, I see God as sustaining universal force as in the Hindu concept of Brahma, or as a hypothetical factor in one’s spiritual development. That a battle of Good and Evil needs to be taking place external to the soul is unnecssisary, and as one can see from most Rapture Narratives, harmful.

With that said, let’s begin my responce to the Apocalypse Quartet.