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September 13, 2008

Comments

Ian Stewart

Hollywood Apocalypse = Fire. Explosions. Robots. John Connor.

Jewish-Christian Apocalypse = Literary term confused with Hollywood term. Less fire. Fewer explosions. No robots. John the Revelator.

David Ellis

Of course, this is all armchair rebellion. I don't live on a commune; I have a job; I vote. But I think where one's heart is is important, and after all, "my kingdom is not of this world." In any event, that's what I'm talking about when I talk about apocalypticism.

Disobey!


In the context of the discussion of THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, I think you badly misrepresented the Connors and what they're doing. The Connors are NOT defending the present political system. They regularly disregard and flought the law and authority.

They are defending the human species from annihilation.


I'm glad to see that your version of "apocalyptism" isn't an embrace of the end of the world (what a dangerous idea---lets hope its not made a self-fulfilling prophecy!).

I think apocalyptic is a bad choice of word for anarchism. But, regardless, I'm curious as a practical matter what you see this future that "will" occur to be like....and how we are to get there.

And, just to clarify, do you reject the idea of a literal second coming?

Gabriel Mckee

To further clarify-- I think there's a big difference between what the Connors are doing in Terminator 2 vs. The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In T2, I think there is definitely a sense that they are fighting to protect middle-class values even if they don't live by them; I don't get that same feeling from TSCC.

As for the question of a literal second coming-- I don't really think about it much, honestly. But I do think that much religious literature, and especially apocalyptic literature, needs to be read from an eternalist standpoint-- that is, describing the underlying nature of reality outside of time, rather than temporal events in the world-as-we-experience-it. If pressed, I suppose I would lean toward the idea that the "second coming" really describes extratemporal reality rather than a future event. (But what do I know?)

And, of course, the perfect world to come may well be outside of time, too. But radical equality and justice are a big part of it. As for how we get there-- that's a thornier issue, but I think we do have an obligation to try to embody that justice and equality in the here-and-now. As a first step, how about ending the death penalty?

Carisse Berryhill

I recommend John Mark Hicks' recent blog series, "Reverse the Curse" at
http://johnmarkhicks.wordpress.com/

Elliot

Hurray for Christian anarchism! Ever hear Utah Philips talk about Ammon Hennacy, the Catholic Worker who taught him to be an anarchist? Very inspiring.

Of course, I'm also more of an armchair theorist than anything when it comes to politics. But when one takes 'the upside-down-kingdom' perspective seriously, it's astonishing how radical and far-reaching it is. Verso, the left-wing publisher, has a new series on key revolutionary texts, and alongside Marx and Trotsky they include volumes on Jesus & the Gospels, the Levellers, and Thomas Muntzer. Plus J.B. Aristide introduces a volume about the Haitian Revolution.

Michael N

I think a reading of the Connors' struggle that understands it in terms of the heavenly battle between Michael and the dragon (Rev 12; also 20) shouldn't be underestimated. Especially given the angelic assistance they receive in the form of the 'good' Terminators, this would seem to apply to T2 (and 3, no matter how bad it is!) as well as to TSCC. So I'm inclined to agree with David. And wouldn't Sarah Connor's institutionalization at the beginning of T2 put her (and by extension John) pretty squarely against earthly powers?

Also, I'd recommend Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther for a great combination of historical exegesis and contemporary interpretation of Christian apocalyptic lit.

David Ellis

"To further clarify-- I think there's a big difference between what the Connors are doing in Terminator 2 vs. The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In T2, I think there is definitely a sense that they are fighting to protect middle-class values even if they don't live by them....."

How so? I didn't get any such impression.

Gabriel Mckee

In T2 the Connors are set against the world, but they are set against it *in order to save it*. They know revolutionaries, but they aren't revolutionaries themselves. They're fugitivies, but not anarchists. Sarah's nightmare is a vision of a playground being destroyed, but that's not a scene from the life that she lives. So I think it's justifialbe to view her as a liminal figure who defends a normative society-- kind of like a CIA assassin. On top of which we get a definite sense that, if the police/etc. knew what was *really* going on, they'd help the Connors rather than hunt them.

In TSCC-- and particularly in the season 2 premiere!-- the Terminators have started to engrain themselves into our society; the big mamma of them all runs a corporation. They aren't destroying society; they're encouraging those aspects of society that are self-destructive. So the Connors are implicitly fighting what already exists, not what is to come. On top of which some of the cops *do* know about the Terminators-- but they're still after the Connors.

Having said all of that, I should note that my reading of T2 is primarily through the lens of the "typical" Hollywood apocalypse; anything I say about that film I would say far more strenuously about "Armageddon." I stand by my interpretation, but I can certainly accept other ones; I love being idiosyncratic. (Dammit, Michael, Event Horizon was GOOD.)

David Ellis

Event Horizon was good?

We really must have different tastes. I despised that movie.

"Sarah's nightmare is a vision of a playground being destroyed, but that's not a scene from the life that she lives. So I think it's justifialbe to view her as a liminal figure who defends a normative society"

Or simply a human defending her species (with children as the natural representation of our love of our species and desire for its continued survival).

Which is, I think, the more obvious and natural, and more importantly, the intended meaning of that scene.

David Ellis

A little different but related topic:

Do you think the creation of sentient machine intelligence, especially superhumanly intelligent machines, would be a bad idea?

I tend to see it as an incredibly dangerous thing.

Augmenting human intelligence. All for it.

Creating incredibly advanced computers (and nonsentient robots). Great.

But sentient machines. I think Herbert was right. Very bad idea.

David Ellis

Hmmm. Just thought of something. The war against Skynet. The Butlerian Jihad. Same thing?

The Terminator series as Dune prequel.

braak

@"But I do think that much religious literature, and especially apocalyptic literature, needs to be read from an eternalist standpoint-- that is, describing the underlying nature of reality outside of time, rather than temporal events in the world-as-we-experience-it. If pressed, I suppose I would lean toward the idea that the "second coming" really describes extratemporal reality rather than a future event. "

This is interesting; I always found that Revelations actually makes a surprising sense when viewed as a metaphor for personal psychological apocalypse. As a materialist and an atheist, of course I must necessarily reject the idea that if an apocalypse exists, it even *can* be extratemporaneous.

Alan Moore wrote an interesting bit in Promethea about how the Four Horsemen are entities that do not come at the end of the world, but exist constantly in the world as we live it. In this context, the Apocalypse could be viewed as a constant and concurrent rejection of the present and embrace of the future--not unlike some of Hakim Bey's stuff about anarchist autonomous zones. I guess, in this sense, you could even call it extratemporaneous.

Michael N

Hey, I like Event Horizon too.

Gabriel Mckee

You did? What was the movie we near-violently disagreed about, then? (Alien 3?) Well, in any event, I know there are a *lot* of people that disagreed with me about the nigh-transcendent awesomeness of Event Horizon. And those people are wrong. I was supposed to write a One-Star Cinema review of it for Nerve last year, but I never got around to it; I'll have to write something about it someday (perhaps soon).

braak

@Gabriel Mckee

I also agreed with you about Event Horizon. It was that curly-haired sucker in the Middle Room that fought with you about it.

Michael N

I do like Alien 3. I also may have defended Alien 4, though I'll acknowledge that that may just come from a strong desire for the movie to be better than it in fact is. But I am totally with you on Event Horizon.

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