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Michael Cisco
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 09:20 pm:   

[This is a piece I had thought was lost for some time - I rediscovered it today, and thought I'd put it up here.]

Apocalypse

Apocalypse subsists in complete obscurity, untouched by so much as a single beam of light. When one writes of total darkness it so seldom invokes even the suggestion of darkness, or even dimness, because even to the blind the words seem to beam off the page. But if it were otherwise, then Apocalypse would not be obscure. It is obscure because it is untouched, and if my words had the power they pretend to have, they would have to touch Apocalypse.

Apocalypse exists in the world of being eternally as the fact of revelation itself, and the apocalypse of religion is the anticipated unfolding of Apocalypse as a historical event. But when Apocalypse becomes historical, it becomes something other than Apocalypse - it becomes the event of Apocalypse, in which Apocalypse is something that is done or becomes manifest. Where Apocalypse subsists eternally it does nothing, and can accomplish nothing. In order for Apocalypse to accomplish something, that is to say, in order for it to do something, it must be changed into something else, into a historical event. It's not that Apocalypse is dragged into the light of day and made to account for itself and for all of us, but rather that those who have encountered it at night are then compelled to mark the day with its traces. Those traces belong to those who make them, and not to Apocalypse, but Apocalypse is what they want when they make those traces, because they have been inspired by Apocalypse.

John of Patmos was speaking of a historical apocalypse in the Book of Revelations, but for him as it is for all who are inspired by Apocalypse, he lived his Apocalypse when it was revealed to him, and he lived it forever afterwards. For him, the event of Apocalypse would only by the corresponding historical expression of what, for him, had been already, because Apocalypse does not belong to the final instant of time, but to the end of time, and therefore exists outside every moment. Apocalypse exists from before Genesis.

John of Patmos does not live in Apocalypse, because that is impossible. Apocalypse is not the other of this world but the other of all worlds, negating everything including negation. He lived on the threshold of Apocalypse, at the revelation of revelation itself, as do all who are inspired by Apocalypse. If you say you believe in Apocalypse, then you live your life on its threshold, in the bare fact of revelation itself, which, although it is an empty fact, is nevertheless a fact, nevertheless a property.

The principle of the historical apocalypse is the revelation to all. It is universal negation and scandal. It is therefore a violence done against those who do not live at the threshold of Apocalypse. The point then, John, is to bring them to the threshold through the traces - the traces that Apocalypse's inspiration brings.

A new, dark sun, bisected perfectly by the horizon, and perfectly motionless, is at one end of the world of Apocalypse. All action is limitlessly suspended. John and all other apocalyptics lived, after their inspiration, half in this world and half out in the world of history, not before the threshold but halfway through it emerging in both directions. The Book of Revelations is John's accomplishment, but it does not itself accomplish anything, nor will its prophecy be accomplished in time. It is, rather, already accomplished outside of time, and upon its threshold is John. His anticipation is the sense of a universally repealed limit that opens total depth on all sides, onto the completely colorless and lightless night in which Apocalypse subsists. The sense of anticipation is the presence of Apocalypse outside every moment.

The apocalyptic religion's purpose in history is to bring as many people as possible to this point of anticipation, where the Apocalypse is sensed as universally immanent.

The content of any apocalypse is irrelevant, rather it is the affirmation of that inspiration that brought it into being, the inspiration that in turn affirms Apocalypse, where it is known that Apocalypse is. When you say "I believe in Apocalypse" you are saying you believe in the fact of revelation itself, which is the endless destruction of the world, a headlong plunge through an infinite succession of veils which will never give way to the face of an underlying truth because the penetration of the veils itself is the truth, the truth of Apocalypse.

The apocalyptic is a hybrid, and kin to hybrids (...on the horizon), abominations, impossible mutations and uncanny things. He is a party to whatever unsettles and destroys the world - treachery and suspicion, doubt, curiosity, morbid vacillation, whatever is unredeemable and inexplicable (but not thereby redeemed or explained). But only of particular worlds, where particular limits of possibility, notions of fidelity, trust, faith, complacency, certainty, truth, explanation and retrieval pertain. Apocalypse itself is the other of all worlds, and that is why one can only linger on the threshold, insofar as one is in history and must thereby be compelled to act on particulars. The apocalyptic seeks out what negates him - rapture, ecstasy, torture, again Apocalypse is indifferent to the content of the event - to bring him closer to Apocalypse which is pure negation. But Apocalypse is unaffected and untouched by the apocalypse of history. The apocalyptic does not contact Apocalypse but only renews its revelation and its inspiration. It must be stressed that Apocalypse remains indifferent to its own revelation or inspiration, because, again, it subsists in total obscurity.

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