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Apocalpyse, not!

Friday, June 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — in using the word apocalyptic to describe mundane (or zombied) disturbances such as Brexit, we lose sight of the beauty and mystery it conceals & reveals ]
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In fact, not so much as a whiff of fresh napalm in the morning.

Tim Furnish has been on a mini-crusade recently against the misuse of the word apocalypse, tweeting examples along with this meme-image:

Furnish Apocalypse N0

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Here are two examples of the genre. which Tim featured last night because each comments on Brexit in apocalyptic terms:

Apocalypse No

Sources:

  • Financial Post, Trump, Clinton and Brexit — the three horses of democracy’s Apocalypse
  • Japan Times, Brexit: The Apocalypse … or not
  • **

    Tim is right.

    The word apocalypse properly refers the vision John, the seer of Patmos, had, tearing away of the veil which so often hides the divine glory from mortal eyes: the Greek word apokalypsis is appropriately translated revelation, and the first verse of the book called The Apocalypse by Catholics and The Revelation of John in the King James Version runs as follows:

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.

    **

    Consider the beauty — and the otherworldiness — of this image from Albrecht Durer. illustrating the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” of Revelation 12.1

    :Virgin-Sitting-In-Crescent-Moon

    **

    The imagery of this final book of the Bible does not show us the usual world of our senses, but a realm of great symbolic beauty, far beyond the reach of unaided eye or camera — as the great literary critic Northrop Frye notes, when he calls the book “a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels” in his Anatomy of Criticism, p 108.

    Like the works of the English visionary William Blake, Revelation is more poetic than literal, visionary in the best sense — and it is hardly surprising that Blake is among its foremost illustrators:

    The_Four_and_Twenty_Elders_(William_Blake)
    Blake, Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne, The Tate Gallery

    Brexit simply cannot match the darkness of Revelation’s Babylon in its final throes, nor the “new heaven and new earth” that succeed it — “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”.

    Echoing Ginsberg?

    Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Holland Tunnel arrest and the beat poet’s Howl — a note on semiotics ]
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    160621-holland-tunnel-truck-embed
    A Dodge SUV registered to Higher Ground Tactical sits in the Port Authority impound yard near the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City on June 21, 2016. Photo: Chad Rachman/New York Post

    The SUV is somewhat eye-catching, to be sure, and the photo presumably good for clicks — but is using the image also a sort of dog-whistle, for or against those who decorate such vehicles, train with such guns, etc? I certainly posted it here to add color to the page.. and to raise such questions.

    **

    So there was an arrest outside the Holland Tunnel, and reports variously claimed Group Caught With Weapons In Holland Tunnel Claimed To Be On Vigilante Mission and No link to terrorism is suspected, also Man Stopped in Gun-Laden Truck Was on ‘Mission to Help Other Families’ After Daughter’s Drug Death, Friend Says. Different strokes for different folks?

    Here’s a brief rundown:

    Heavily armed and angry about the heroin epidemic, the owner of an Upper Milford gun range who said he was on his way to rescue a teenage girl in New York City was stopped by police Tuesday at the Holland Tunnel.

    John Cramsey, 50, of Zionsville was one of three people in a truck decorated with anti-drug dealer and pro-gun logos and banners from his business, Higher Ground Tactical.

    Around 7:40 a.m., Port Authority police stopped Cramsey’s truck on the New Jersey side of the tunnel after spotting a cracked windshield.

    Police found weapons in the vehicle — five pistols, an AR-15 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun — as well as marijuana and a marijuana pipe, according to a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Authorities also found body armor and knives.

    **

    Here’s what caught my attention, and what it reminded me of:

    John Cramsey DQ Ginsberg Howl

    Ginsberg and an anti-drug crusader?

    These details are of interest to those who track and analyze “signs” — likewise the two place names, Emmaus and Zionsville, both of them Biblical, likewise the name Higher Ground Tactical, with “higher ground” having both metaphorical (moral) and military meanings — and likewise the vivid imagery of the SUV itself, with its decals & detailing.

    We speak with our gestures and the imagery we use, not just with the plain literal sense of our words.

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    DoubleQuote Sources:

  • The Morning Call, Emmaus area gun range owner stopped at Holland Tunnel
  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl
  • How Syria becomes Palestine

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on borrowing the atrocities of others for propaganda advantage ]
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    and:

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    It’s not as though this is the first time I’ve seen this done, nor is Syria > Palestine necessarily the trajectory — see for example this DoubleTweet from Phillip Smyth, Photographic enantiodromia at the Zaynab shrine?.

    Pat Robertson & Orlando, just to be clear

    Sunday, June 12th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — fict that aligns with expectation is more popular than fact that doesn’t, d’oh! ]
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    Just so we’re clear about this, left, right, atheist, believer, whatever, let’s quash this rumor:

    DQ Robertson Snopes Orlando 600 75

    You may believe Pat Robertson said it, you may wish he had — but he didn’t, and I’m pretty sure Snopes knows better than the British tabloid The Mirror.

    Sources:

  • Mirror, Orlando shootings are ‘God’s punishment’ for same-sex marriage, claims .. Pat Robertson
  • Snopes, Standing Pat
  • On the narrative arc

    Monday, May 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a recent Wapo example of how history gets bent (ever so slightly) out of shape to serve narrative ]
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    Riley Rainbow in Curved Air
    One of the universal arcs, and a personal favorite

    **

    Story-telling shapes awareness.

    Yesterday’s Washington Post has an article titled Patriots at the gate: The Americans preparing for battle against their own government. It’s an interesting overview, but I’m not interested in discussing the merits or demerits of the Patriot Movement, Southern Poverty Law Center, Oath Keepers, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma City, the Bundy Ranch, or Malheur — what interests me is the way the story is told.

    Here’s the section dealing with one participant:

    Across the family-style table, Alex ­McNeely, 25, a drywaller and “avid YouTuber,” said he became interested in the patriot movement online and joined the group to feel that he was helping to defend the country.

    “There’s this D.C. mentality that if you stand up for your rights, you’re dangerous and anti-government,” said McNeely, who has an AK-47 assault rifle tattooed on his forearm. “But if I’m denied my rights, what else can I do? Am I just going to stand there and take it, or am I going to do something?”

    In the Constitutional Guard, McNeely said: “I feel what we do is stand up for people who don’t have the means to stand up for themselves. I have an overwhelming desire to help people.”

    They have passed out more than 2,000 pocket-size copies of the Constitution that Soper said he bought for $500, sent food and clothes to victims of forest fires in Washington state and Oregon and given Christmas presents to more than three dozen children in need.

    McNeely considered joining the military when he graduated from high school, but he turned 18 the month Obama was elected in 2008, and, because of Obama’s “socialist” policies, “I wasn’t going to accept him as my commander in chief.”

    “I don’t like that he wants to fundamentally change America,” McNeely said.

    **

    The writer is Kevin Sullivan, a WaPo Senior correspondent, and I think we can safely assume he knows his trade. My interest focus on the sentence:

    “There’s this D.C. mentality that if you stand up for your rights, you’re dangerous and anti-government,” said McNeely, who has an AK-47 assault rifle tattooed on his forearm.

    Sullivan has already given his opening identification of McNeely —

    Across the family-style table, Alex ­McNeely, 25, a drywaller and “avid YouTuber,” said he became interested in the patriot movement online and joined the group to feel that he was helping to defend the country

    — that’s fair enough, and the bit about the “AK-47 assault rifle tattooed on his forearm” could have gone in there, or been added to the graph:

    McNeely considered joining the military when he graduated from high school, but he turned 18 the month Obama was elected in 2008, and, because of Obama’s “socialist” policies, “I wasn’t going to accept him as my commander in chief.”

    where the topic is his consideration of “the military” — but no, Sullivan posts it neither where he’s introducing McNeely nor where he’s talking about his thoughts about the military, but in the graph discussing the Patriot Mov ement ideals as McNeely describes them — see, once again:

    “There’s this D.C. mentality that if you stand up for your rights, you’re dangerous and anti-government,” said McNeely, who has an AK-47 assault rifle tattooed on his forearm.

    **

    Sullivan wants the irony. He’s making a juxtaposition-with-purpose — long-time readers here will know that juxtaposition as a rhetorical device is a keen interest of mine — he’s linking the movement’s ideals with the AK-47 tattoo to add an inflection of irony.

    It’s a tiny point — no more than an inflection — but it’s one that I note in the same way I noted the non-appearance of bin Laden‘s Qur’anic epigraph in media versions of a significant speech, in my post Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style, for parallels, patterns. I don’t happen to share McNeely’s worldview, nor that of bin Laden, but I am deeply interested in the ways the media portray matters of substance and nuance. I am interested in “narrative”.

    We’ve all heard MLK’s quote, “somehow the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” The arc of narrative has another aim: it bends towards “good reading” — and if the curve bends fast enough it will spiral ever more lightly and less helpfully in, and we wind up with “click bait”. I know this, because I practice my own version of the dark (and sometimes, brilliantly illuminating) art of writing.

    **

    There’s a lot more to say about narrative, and the various meanings it now has.

    One of my own interests is the way in which we think a narrative can be spun out of words and images (aka “propaganda”), when facts, grounded realities, history may, as they say, tell a different tale — and facts may speak louder than words. In that sense, if we need a new narrative, we may need a new behavior, a new policy, a new strategy implemented, to speak it.

    What interests me here though, getting back to the WaPo piece and McNeely, is how telling a story in a way that makes it a “good read” influences a narrative arc that is, significantly, also the arc of “the first draft of history”.


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