The End is Nigh: Getting the Most from your Apocalypse Experience (Part 7: How do I Know if it is REALLY the Apocalypse?)

Holy shit. You’re just asking this question now? I hope you haven’t been following this book in a literal sequence, or you just might be in a world of shit right now.

At this point, you may have burned everything you owned, had a scuffle with the police, and perhaps even shot a few of your neighbors. It had better damn well be the apocalypse or that next block party is going to be awfully awkward for you. So just what IS the apocalypse, and how can you recognize it? Well, the word itself comes from the ancient Greek, and it literally means a disclosure of knowledge – a revelation, if I may wax biblical. So what has been revealed to you? What new information have you learned in the last 24 hours?

Did you think ‘apocalypse’ meant the literal end of the world? Well, yes, in the modern context it does. The whole confusion stems from the Book of Revelations that some chowder-heads stuck at the end of The Bible. Just before The Bible went to the presses, they decided it needed an ending with pizzazz. And everyone just assumed the Bible would end with the End of the World… and maybe it does, but most scholars disagree. Some say it is an allegory for the fall of the Roman Empire, others think it contains a really good chili recipe. No one really knows what it is meant to be revealing because the Revelation of John is such a wacky piece of fucked-up literature. One could argue that this “John” guy (who most agree is not the apostle John, so we really don’t even know who wrote this bit) was way over his head into hallucinogens, hinted at by the part that says he ate a “scroll” which was sweet on his tongue but turned bitter in his stomach before he had his “visions” (Rev. 10:10). The point is, we really can’t trust this as any sort of reliable guide book. Have you ever read it? It’s like a Bosch painting in text form.

This brings us back to the question: What have you learned? What has been revealed? Well, you learned that ‘apocalypse’ doesn’t mean the end of the world, necessarily. It just means new information has been disclosed to you. And hasn’t this little book done just that? You have some new ideas at least, don’t you? So there you go – it IS the apocalypse! Congratulations, you have fulfilled your own stupid prophecy just by reading a book. Truth be told, every day should contain an apocalypse, because learning is fun and knowledge is power.

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Do you feel cheated? You wanted the world to end, and all you got was some new ideas – ideas you may not even like. Have you considered that the world never ends, it just changes? The old world ends every time you learn something new. You see the world a little differently, and so your earlier perception of it has ended. So there ya go – end of the world.

Still not good enough? You want World War III, complete with fighter jets and tanks and nuclear clouds against a blood-red sky, heralding the arrival of the forces of Light and Darkness in physical forms of angels and demons streaking down from above as the earth is torn asunder beneath your very feet? Holy crap, how much does your life suck that you are hoping something like that will happen? Is it really so terrifying for you to think about going through your day to day routine every day for the next 40 or so years until you retire and/or die that you would prefer total destruction instead? Is it just being able to say that you saw it? That you were there when the world actually ended? I can understand that. No one wants to sit through all of the opening acts and then leave before the main event. Well, then, how about this scenario:

All of us get to see the world end. Everyone who has ever died has seen it (and as we discussed before, this includes you). The world is YOUR own private concert, made for your own experience and benefit. When you die, the world ends. Your consciousness splits off into a separate reality, or dimension, in which you get to see all of that anticipated horror show happen and you get to experience it – a kind of final exam, just to see how well you handle it. In this sense, Section 5 of this book is O.K. because in this reality, it will only be you that has died, and your friends and family can handle the lump of rotten meat you left behind in whatever manner you saw fit to instruct them. Frankly, I hope you go with the natural disposal via nature, or at least just burn the thing, but whatever – you do what you want. Some people donate their bodies to science. In fact, I bet a lot of people do that. Science probably has more bodies than it knows what to do with. I once saw an art exhibit made entirely of peeled corpses, so you know they’re just spit-balling with those things. Why not leave your body to comedy? Mail it to someone you hate in a spring-loaded box that will launch it out onto your arch nemesis’ coffee table. Or Weekend at Bernie’s that thing and haul it on vacation, taking pictures of it in crazy outfits in front of famous landmarks. I don’t know… be creative. Use the opportunity to change someone else’s perception of the world and give them their own little apocalypse (or, if they have a heart condition, maybe give them the real thing).

Am I saying that when you die you will see the apocalypse as you have been conditioned to expect it? No, I am not. I am just trying to give you hope that you won’t just slip anonymously into inky blackness and be forgotten… or worse yet, get the old, boring tunnel-of-light leading to a peaceful garden. How awful that would be for you! No, I don’t want to dash your hopes of dreadful horsemen laying waste to all you have ever known and your mind being torn asunder with the madness of the impermanence of it all. You deserve to dream.

Back to the point: How do you know it’s the apocalypse? You don’t. It can be something as simple as learning something new, but I figure you picked up this book hoping to read about destruction on a biblical scale and you won’t be satisfied with anything less. The Apocalypse means that the show ends, the curtain comes down, and you are re-exposed to the real world outside this theater once again. You see the reality outside of the cave. What is that reality? Go back and read through this little book again, you may have missed something – particularly Part 2, where it says that this world is essentially a school in which we are supposed to be learning to be better sentient beings, beings that will one day be capable of creating and maintaining universes of our own. I hope they are beautiful, peaceful universes where all life is treated with love and respect, and everyone doesn’t get killed in a spectacular Michael Bay-ish explosion of war and demonic bloodlust. But it’s your universe. You do what you want.

PART 8

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