Don’t worry. The apocalypse is only human. This is an apocsploitation film. Sort of, since it’s really kind of “meta.” (Thinking about thinking.) Sort of like the philosophy of car crash porn in which death displaces sex. There IS apocalypse porn that’s about sex -- “the world is ending -- jump into bed!” Sort of like the idea that if you’re already dying of cancer, why not light up a Marlboro?
Here’s a quote from David Spangler, the Findhorn guy: “There’s a long history of this [apocalyptic stories] in Western culture. Usually, the scenario is that a special group will be saved (which almost always includes the one making the prophecy) while everyone else will either die or go through a period of tribulation and suffering . . . I call this “apocalypse porn.” It can be addictive, and it reduces people to victims in a planetary disaster movie. It is disempowering because it suggests that change cannot come through human effort and transformation or through joy and creativity but only through disaster and suffering. . . .There is a lighter version (“soft-core apocalypse porn”) in which the earth or civilization are not wholly destroyed but there are still enough disasters and catastrophes to bring about a change of consciousness in people that in turn will lead to building a bright, new world.”
Then there’s a kind of psych version that proposes that apocalypse is continuous because we are always destroying the personal world handed to us by the previous generations and then creating a new world, what Novak, the guy in that video, calls the “paleofuture.” (I like it. Beats saying “today is the first day of the rest of your life.”) Not just the social and physical world we live in that apocalyptically explodes or withers -- it’s also the Heaven and Hell of our parents. (That’s the part the evangelicals miss. They want to hang onto Heaven for themselves and Hell for us.) The Apocalypse we envision now even destroys God along with the world, because God is humanoid and Heaven is Earthoid. Hell, too. All gone.
I’ve proposed in my “Molten Chalice” manuscript that religion is meant to be the interface between what is impossibly inconceivable to humans as opposed to what we humans can and do know. In the hunter/gatherer times the interface was nature itself -- a mountain, a shore, the animals, the life force we inhabit. In the Old Testament times during the shift to agricultural and domesticated animals, when we were adjusting to the built environment we created by walling our granaries and guarding our wells, we went to a KingGod, very humanoid. Burn meat to please the guy. Then the New Testament, describing a time of dynamic populations, went to a FatherGod, with a Son as interface and bread and wine as sacrifices.
This is way oversimplified and sophomoric, but it leads to some interesting questions. What is our interface with a non-anthropomorphic, non-anthropocentric still-mysterious cosmos? And what are the sacrifices that will propitiate it? And what is an apocalypse in a cosmos if apocalypse is only the destruction of the human anyway? So now we’ve got a meta-apocalypse that has destroyed itself.
The term, “apocalypse porn”, came to my attention at the environmental listservs in a discussion about Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” I suggested it was just a burnt-out (ashen) version of “Blood Meridian.” Others thought “The Road” was hopeful. One writer has proposed that just recently apocalyptic novels and film have changed in that they have abandoned the causes of the trouble -- no longer is it nuclear war or climate change or an invasion from outer space. Instead, it is about how to cope afterwards. It has “softened.”
One researcher was a bit taken aback when interviewing people who had believed in the most recent apocalypse, disposed of their belongings, and gone to the top of the mountain to await whatever destruction might come. When nothing happened they were not relieved -- they were ANGRY. They WANTED apocalypse. One woman said she HATED this world, it SUCKED, she wanted it destroyed. She said she had a bad marriage, a worse job, and was waaaay overweight. Her desired apocalypse was personal. Instead of divorce, an employment agency, and Weight Watchers, she wanted God to destroy everyone, EVERYONE !!! She thought of it as a clean start, but it sounded more like revenge.
For a while in environmental circles -- as the youngsters slowly began to understand how much we are to blame for global warming, trash gyres in the oceans, species loss, oil spills, and so on -- there was a wave of self-hatred. The comic strip called B.C. was always showing the planet complaining about being infested and wishing to get rid of its infecting humans. The theme didn’t last long and pretty soon people were back to saying, “Oh, if we don’t develop the planet, we’ll all starve!!”
Much of our religious theory has been about personal individual salvation: what must I do to be saved? Jesus died for YOU -- not for all humankind. Not for all living beings. Not for the planet. And what use is salvation and eternal life if you don’t even know where Heaven is these days?
We need to shift to a model of participation -- all things being connected. What is the quality of your connection? In truth, scientifically, humans are simply a product of the crust of the planet earth which provided the minute clay molds for the molecular patterning that was the first life, then the resources (sun, wind, water, oxygen) for the long complexification that is still going on. Our brains are still developing. We’ve just found out how much brain cells change continuously throughout life, like everything else. When I was in high school, we were taught that brain cells were permanent and irreplaceable. Now that we can look at the insides of individual cells, we find them to be very busy and constantly changing places, just like all the rest of the universe, and to be stringing communication filaments among themselves faster than Verizon.
Can you hear me now? Take my hand. I need the connection.