Dreaming the Apocalyptic Tango: A Love Letter from the End of the World
This project began after 9/11, when Armaggedon rhetoric ramped up in Western politics, and I wondered, “What gives this “end of the world” idea such tenacity?” From time to time, I thought the project was obsolete, but sadly, no. If anything, the project has revealed itself to have barely scratched the surface.
This website has been largely dormant for the last three years, as I grappled with the mistrust and collision of opposing relative realities in US society. In the midst of that, wildfires and other strong acts of nature, now coronavirus. The essence of my apocalypse understanding can be summed up as the pressing in of a sacred insistence, a collective need to wake up to the truth of interdependence and our responsibility to look out for each other and this world we share.
The word Apocalypse means unveiling: the word suggests that some truth / reality is obscured in the psyche, the unveiling of which would “end the world” as we know it and evolve us through the current perils facing humanity. (This theme of obscuration / revelation plays out in both individual and collective life.) The literalist, what I call symbolically illiterate, narratives around the Book of Revelation, crafted over time by white men, are firmly embedded within an us/them, damned/saved, heavily binaried, polarized, and violent worldview that is frankly delusional and dangerous. Given that we are currently in a situation where vast inequalities are being revealed, how does one engage it while neither getting locked into psychospirituality violent binaries that deny our interconnectedness, nor escaping into some kind of airbrushed ignoring / ignorant view?
Is it possible that there is something embedded within the endangered human mythogenetic code of archetypal, mythopoetic, symbolic structures that knows how to die to human conceptual prisons: what the Buddhist tradition calls the three poisons of ignorance, aggression/ violent, and craving / greed, what the Christian tradition calls sin or ‘missing the mark’ through ignorance and blindness? Is it possible for Western consciousness to leave behind linear and literalist, hyperindividualist narratives and enter a cyclical path from Apocalypse to Genesis — a primal rhythm, mirrored to us by nature, of release / emergence ? Is it possible for our current predicament to dropkick human consciousness across the threshold into a beneficial way of life on this planet?
I write this in March 2020 as I stay home: I stay away from others as a way of looking out for others. I started this project in 2003 as an artsy, scholarly, metaphorical way to examine mythopoetry and symbolism. The stakes have clearly gotten much higher since then. I’ve disabled the links on this website because we’re in the middle of a wave right now — not a time to be looking for theoretical comfort zones. All I can really say is may you stay strong, may you be safe, may you be well, may you touch the deepest truth of your being during this challenge when many external supports are gone, and may we come out the other side of this with some hard-earned wisdom, so that all the suffering will not be in vain.
Traditions share an idea that humans are asleep to their true nature. We all have buddha (awake) nature, Christ (anointed) nature. My current practice before I go to sleep is to practice a bit of tonglen, followed by a “good night, slumbering buddhas.” May we collectively dream ourselves into something more aligned with goodness for ourselves, each other and all living beings on this planet, so we don’t need ever more dramatic wake-up calls. Let our hearts hold the collective while we are in quarantine, especially holding those on the front lines. May Grace manifest and illuminate.
If you are interested in the background of my studies of apocalypse: as an antidote to the violent religious fundamentalist perspective of global catastrophe that signals salvation for the believers and the beginning of eternal mega suffering for the damned, and the secular version in which the ongoing war of us/them is played out with a fervent lemming-like compulsion towards human annihilation and planetwide ecological destruction,I went searching for life-supporting perspectives that point to something we could call sacred Apocalypse. I found the trail of Jungian archetypes and symbolism, and early 20th century writers, including D.H. Lawrence, who delved into mystical perspectives on the Book of Revelation as a manual of seven levels of death/ rebirth initiation.
We need a multi-faceted approach to our current predicament, including technology and politics, but if we don’t evolve past violent, greedy, warmongering, destructive habits within human consciousness, what I call the self/other war, what some call patriarchy, then humanity may survive, but it will not thrive.
There are several names given to our times: End Times, Great Unraveling, Great Turning. I like to call it the Great Gamble,given the high stakes that seem to get higher on the daily. Rumi allegedly wrote: “Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being.”
What might it look like to live as a true human being who gambles everything for the love that manifests as sacred reciprocity? Perhaps that is what humans are designed for and the manifestations of the self/other war — isolation, greed, violence, exploitation in all its forms — are symptoms of an auto-immune disease of the collective human body.
I think of this website as a disheveled notebook, one that I keep trying to configure into something tidy, but so far it remains unruly — and the hits keep coming to humanity. The image that returns again and again is of myself sitting in the debris of an alchemist lab, furiously scribbling notes. Alchemical labs are famous for blowing up when the fire gets out of control. And since I first wrote that sentence, when my studies on apocalypse were still in their artsy phase, the literal fires have gone out of control and many of us who haven’t suffered directly have breathed in the smoke of those tragedies. Isn’t it kind of like that on a psychospiritual level as well? Some humans directly suffer, and some breathe it in, however unconsciously.
Welcome to the love side of the apocalypse, if such a glorious adventure exists within our challenges. We currently live in such a state of uncertainty and delusion, I won’t take it for granted that we can go there, though I used to — but I can’t imagine any other frontier worth going for… or even the existence of any other sustainable frontier.