About the name of this website:
Dreaming: The Book of Revelation is a symbolically dense text and most people in the West rely on interpreters, mostly white men, who have collaged the apocalypse scenario over time. As such, the idea of apocalypse as the mega-violent end of the world is part of the dead white male legacy.
In his book The Dream and the Underworld, James Hillman posits the necessity and reality of an imaginal / underworld ego, as well as a dayworld ego, for full human development. He posits that is the imaginal ego that dreams, and dreams for its own reasons, not merely in service of the dayworld ego.
Apocalyptic It seems to me that the imaginal ego is one name for the part of a human being that is fluent in symbol language, and it’s the cultural exile of the imaginal ego that has created, at least in part, a situation of symbolic illiteracy, at least in the U.S., where symbolism is most often used to perp consumerism via advertising.
A symbolically dense text like the Book of Revelation doesn’t have a chance to offer up whatever treasures might be embedded in it, in a literalist culture where most depend on literalists to interpret such a text. If one looks around at current cultural ideas about apocalypse, with its intensifying and violent damned/saved polarities, and lack of concern for the planet as a living being, one can see the danger of this.
Tango: Apocalypse, in its literalist version, is the final battle between good and evil. Many traditions have God in primary relationship with a Goddess, a consort, an inseparable lover, the One becoming Two. The God of the Bible as we commonly know Him has an enemy as His primary relationship. That says something important about our predicament right there: it’s way easier, and culturally sanctioned, to be haters rather than lovers.
I’m not talking about romantic or sexual love here (though of course those types of love have profound meaning in our human experience) but rather a love that is an awareness of our interdependence and interconnectedness, a love that naturally expresses as compassion and empathy towards all we share the world with.
The tango is a dance of passionate engagement with partner, music and environment, a leaning in while also maintaining one’s balance. It’s an improvised dance, an intimate body poem of love, passion, heartbreak, life and all its elements, sometimes between men and women, sometimes between strangers, always about making art with the polarity of leader and follower (or sometimes even pluralities of that polarity). “Apocalyptic tango” contains within it a prayer to make art and beauty with our polarities / differences and end what I call ‘the self/other war.’
This is clearly no easy task. The mind habits that lead to prejudice, hate crimes and eventually genocide, begin with ‘us and them’ distinctions that dehumanize ‘them’ by making ‘the other’ less than the puffed up “us.”
In the riddle of self / other, the slash line isn’t merely a device showing a boundary, but the space in between: a vitally important part of the equation. A critical aspect of ending the self/other war is that it opens up that slash line / liminal / space between us, so that we might enter it like a new territory.
People tend to get scared of such unknown places, because of stories about the evil and danger that lurks there, but perhaps there is a needed gift in that banished place, that place that is neither fully self nor fully other, a place where perhaps the mystical tango can happen. (Tango is often referred to as one heart and four legs — a unique, poetic creature birthed in a moment of self, other, atmosphere and music.)
Donald Trump got elected in part because of the comfort some find in someone calling it in black and white, and decrying the grey zone as a place of “politically correct” confinement. I am calling for exploration of the diversity and ambiguity of the grey zone, out of love for evolutionary possibility.
IF part of our problem is a lack of intimacy with the imaginal realm, and a lack of fluency with the symbolic literacy that is part of our indigenous humanity, and IF the divinely ordained mega-mess known as the Apocalypse is a collective story collaged over time by Western white men possessed by a seriously delusional, dualistic story of good / saved and evil / damned, and IF it’s possible that we have internal resources that will aid us during these times, and help us change the collective story into something that contains more intimacy with the Mystery that underlies our lives and all that we can perceive, THEN it seems worth exploration, even love and devotion.
I believe that one deep human medicine we must access at this time is to boldly call out what we see, and look out for each other, as feral boddhisattvas — you don’t have to be Buddhist to recognize the truth that we are all in this together.
If not for the Nazi apocalypse, my parents would not have married, would not have left their homeland, and I would not be. One could say I was conceived by the apocalyptic spirit. There have been over thirty predicted ‘end of the world’ years since my birth in 1954, more than half my life has. I was perhaps destined me for intimate relationship with apocalypse in all its expressions, designed for it, even. Something similar may be true for you.
My father was Czech surrealist photographer Vilem Kriz. Because of him, I learned a certain fluidity of identity. Because of him, I learned to perceive myself as a collage of the inner and outer worlds, in ever-moving kaleidoscopic process, always dancing, even when I’m still.
For a memoir piece about Vilem’s death, Prague, and me, I invite you to ekleksographia. For an interview based article on Vilem’s work, I invite you to vilem-kriz-poet-in-exile
My mother, Jarmila, was a gifted painter who, because of traumatic events during the war, spent a great deal of time sitting at the window and waiting for her life to pass. My brother Gabriel was a tormented painter and writer who died of alcoholism just shy of his fiftieth birthday. My aunt Marie was a devout Catholic who lived and died alone in northern Quebec.
I was the only member of my family born in the United States, and now I am the only one left.
When I was six years old, my parents sent me to Catholic school. I was plunged into my first existential crisis when I encountered the Catholic story of the saved and the damned as the way of eternity — I wanted no part of that, but if it were true, I was not only born to parents in exile in this life, but would continue in exile throughout eternity. Was there even a place for those who, of course, didn’t want eternal torment in hell, but also had no interest in a Heaven with a psychopath God and cold-hearted followers who could party eternally while endless suffering happened right next door?
The Book of Revelation and Armageddon theology was nowhere in my upbringing, though the problem of dualist consciousness, inherent in our times, always was. My father was a black and white photographer, and I could see in his photographs that the true beauty of black and white was revealed in their gentle greyscale romance. The most beautiful times of day are not the brightness of midday nor the utter darkness of midnight, but the twilight times when day and night mingle, kiss, dance, surrender each to the other.
I didn’t do all my growing up, or my living, in California, but I was born in Berkeley and we came back during my adolescence, so I was around for a fair amount of New Age blissheadedness, which never sat right with me, as it seemed in denial of darkness.
I discovered the Apocalypse via pop culture. In the early eighties, my local movie theater played Road Warrior as a midnight movie. The first time I went, I walked out of there thinking it was the stupidest story line I’d ever spent time with — a bunch of crazed out guys driving around the desert killing each other for fuel so they could drive around a bit more? Suddenly, I realized this stupid plot line was genius: this was a brilliant story of Western greedy madness. I was a video artist at the time, and I went back week after week, one time to study the dialogue, another the soundtrack, the editing, etc. Though I think the film looks a bit dated now, time has only proven the brilliant insight of the story line.
As I mentioned on the home page, Armageddon rhetoric ramped up in Western politics after 9/11 to the extent I felt compelled to immerse myself in study and artmaking. I tried to write essays about my findings, but was never able to compress my associative thinking into an accessible format. I dropped it for a while, but the results of my work never fully let me go, and so I put up this website. The 2016 elections convinced me that it’s important to communicate the issues of the archetype of the apocalypse, and offer a view through that lens.
to put it all another way: