The Konformist

May 2001

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Apocalypse Culture II

Book Review


Jaye C. Beldo

Carl Jung quipped once about the necessity of bringing darkness to light and what a damn unpleasant and unpopular task it can be. No wonder such compendium masterpieces as Apocalypse Culture II are rarities in a publishing world rife with the kind of corporate pabulum which only serves to distract us from the shadowed seemliness of our freak show world. Feral House editor Adam Parfrey, who put the volume together, has done for us a most unpleasant yet much needed task. It's up to us to find some kind of light within the amply sordid tome he offers.

Cutting through the general malaise which saturates Apocalypse Culture II, one discovers that this volume was not published with shock for shock's sake in mind, like such ill fated and idiotic 'zines as Boiled Angel for example. Parfrey has chosen some of the best writings in the Culture Noir genre to include in this ample sequel volume. There is enough intelligence and foresight within to actually encourage us to go beyond the human condition by forcing us to go through it, page after page. Reading Apocalypse Culture II is like touring one of the more unpleasant Bardo realms found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, rife with Hungry Ghosts and other discarnate forms of pestilence.

In spite of the explicit taint of the book, many of the essays, articles, poems and letters contain qualities which are edifying and transcendent. There is something strangely uplifting in regards to recipes that require human baby meat as an ingredient, especially if envisioned being negotiated in the hands of Martha Stewart on her T.V. show when she's whipping up something for a dinner party. How can one ignore the confessions of an academic wannabe cannibal accompanied by pictures of his dismembered and half savored victim (found in the piece "The Strange Crime of Issei Sagawa" by Colin Wilson)? Surely Jerry Springer would invite the connoisseur onto his show if he could somehow spring him from prison, encouraging him to take full benefit of his prime time Trailer Trash democracy.

In the piece, "The Late, Great Aesthetic Taboos" by Ghazi Barakat, pornography, the most prevalent expression of middle class mediocrity/blight at the moment is treated as something anesthetically redeeming. The paintings of the American exile/artist Stu Mead whose work the printers of Apocalypse Culture II found reprehensible enough to censor serve as a prime example. One can only wonder why they didn't choose to black out an image of a Shirley Temple facsimile working her eager little bald pudenda with the handle of a riding crop. Maybe because she's enticingly adorned in Nazi regalia made her image somehow morally acceptable enough for the printers to leave uncensored.

One of the more disturbing essays "Pedophilia and the Morally Righteous" by Chris Campion vacillates between gruesome descriptions of child murder, rape to lofty expositions on Greek mythology and Philosophy in attempt to have us Platonically recollect ourselves and truly see the profound contradictions we are, at times, composed of. After reading this, one would gladly want to escape into the realm of eternal Ideas for a breather. Another worthwhile piece in this volume comes from Michael A. Hoffman II, "The Scapegoat: Ted Kaczynski, Ritual Murder and the Invocation of Catastrophe." In the spirit of the late James Shelby Downard, the author charts out the latent mystical toponomies in the Unabomber case and how the media manipulated the collective unconscious of America via the scapegoat archetype. The subliminal machinations of the cryptocracy are adequately exposed in this essay. One cannot ignore the alchemical import of the sacrifice and perhaps in the future will be able to read between the lines of corporate media depictions of mad bombers and other assorted lone nutters as to what truly is being manipulated within our own psyches.

One clue hinting at the metaphysically redeeming quality within Apocalypse Culture II lies directly upon the inside cover. Unassumingly tucked within a squeamish montage of cretinous visages to marvel at in Side Show fashion, is a picture of Avatar Meher Baba in the lower right corner. How one of the most advanced spiritual beings going in our cosmos shows up in the pages of such a patently transgressive book is a most encouraging ambiguity indeed. I think Baba is there to remind us all that the horrors within Apocalypse Culture II are ultimately illusions of which we can substantially transcend if not transform into a lasting understanding of humanity's ongoing plight. If we can raise our vibe just a little, as Baba encourages, we will intimately understand the persistence of transgression in our culture. Perhaps reading Parfrey's well selected articles which follow Baba's invitation, beckoned with his sublime presence, will help us speed up the sanskara burning process by allowing us to confront what we desperately try to project out and away from ourselves over and over again. Maybe in the future we won't need any more JonBenet Ramseys, Renee Hartevelts or Ted Kaczynski's to dump our unresolved karma into in hopes it will be purged once and for all through their sacrifices. Maybe we can sabotage the scapegoat assembly line the media depends so much upon for its fodder as well. Perhaps Apocalypse Culture II will inspire some of us on the spiritual cusp of evolution to work through the kind of implicate dreck depicted in its pages, within our very own psyches. It is most difficult to write off Apocalypse Culture II with mere horrified fascination or other irresponsible forms of morbid entertainment. One has to be mighty deaf not to hear a response calling from our souls to acknowledge the consequences of the perversion depicted in its pages. If we listen, perhaps we can be actually compassionate towards the Kaczynski's and McVeigh's currently roaming the planet in search of a venue in which to detonate their essays.

Dr. Jung, alleged crypto fascist he may have been, would have truly savored Apocalypse Culture II for its commitment to putting the shadow, collective and otherwise, in the limelight and forcing it to stay there long enough for us to discern, before scuttling back into the obscured and cozy confines of our unconscious minds. Yet perhaps Jung was wrong that shadow dredging is unpopular as evidenced by the fact that Apocalypse Culture II was recently nominated for the Firecracker Alternative Book award. Let us hope that it takes the Blue Ribbon hands down and prove ol' Carl Gustav wrong.

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