Genesis and Apocalypse – Chapter 12

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[Under the pages section I’ve compiled this book review in one location]

Apocalypse

Altizer sees our world as being severely troubled. While this last century was unique in experiencing an absolute totalitarianism, a new totalitarianism is being released on society in which all boundaries between public/private, conscious/unconscious are dissolving. Even the interior realm is no longer only interior but rather absorbed into this new world. “That ending is the advent of a new nothingness, a nothingness that is not beyond our horizon but rather is our horizon, and is our horizon because horizon has disappeared” (177). Another crisis we face is that that our world can no longer be celebrated with a Yes that is solely Yes. The Yes and Amen with which Nietzsche welcomed the eternal recurrence and the Yes to coming of the Here Comes Everybody for Joyce is no longer possible in the world we inhabit. The inability to name Satan is likewise an inability to name Christ any longer. The name Christ is no longer speakable in our world precisely because the absolute distinction between Christ and world can no longer be maintained. The inability to name Christ also suggests that “a truly and unique interior and individual presence have ever more comprehensively disappeared” (180), in our anonymous world. Our world is now totally and absolutely an abyss. Altizer raises the question that if are inability to name Christ in our abyssal world might indicate that this “very incapacity to could be a decisive sign of the full presence of an apocalypse” (183).

Perhaps if we can think of the abyss as a consequence of grace, a grace that shatters our previous notions of grace, then maybe this “grace must perish before grace itself can be all in all, just as Christ must perish before Christ can be all in all, and just as God has perished so that God can be all in all” (183). If our modern emptiness is total and full then this must be because of the present apocalypse “which is being enacted even now” (187).

Altizer concludes Genesis and Apocalypse with these words:

“When we recall that it was an original apocalypticism that called forth the dark emptiness of the impotent will, we can be prepared for a darkness that is inseparable from light, and a light that can only appear in the heart of darkness, for only in the transfiguration of that darkness is an apocalyptic transfiguration. Then even if we cannot say Yes and only Yes, we can say a No that inseparable from Yes, and while that No for us can never be a pure No-saying, it is precisely that absence which evokes a Yes, and evokes a Yes in the very center of darkness” (187).

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