Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture? Save Yourself.

Now, much as it's proving to be a surprising amount of fun to fuel the hell-fire of publicity for one deranged man who clearly wants to kill himself but is looking to do it by proxy, like a gangland teenager bereft of hope who commits suicide-by-cop, I think it's pretty safe to assume that The Rapture isn't about to happen.

Just to touch on the idea of a catastrophe of biblical proportions, where a catastrophe and a dogtanian would live together? I'd say this is a welcome and entertaining diversion from what's been a pretty hellish narrative in the news lately.

We've got politicians saying there's bad rape and okay rape, which I assume means the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war against Congolese women which keeps mobile phone production cheap and allows us to fool ourselves into believing we need that upgrade every year. I did it, we all did it. My iPhone4 is an incredible tool, but it's built in a factory that has to have suicide guards and includes rare minerals that are mined from human suffering.

I managed fine when I'd write letters or use a telephone and I could still remember things without having to check an address six times on google maps on my way somewhere.

But yes, Ken's right, culturally, we condone that kind of rape. We buy into it every time we upgrade.

Good rape? The police in Canada warned women that if they dressed like sluts they were placing themselves at risk. Well, I know for one, that as a man I just love being treated like some kind of rape-robot by this sort of discussion, as though the flash of an ankle will transform me from a decent human being into some kind of brutal fuck-hungry monster. How's about we change the discourse away from it being "what you wear controls men's behaviour" into one about everyone, men, women and those who define otherwise respecting one another and sex being based around mutual desire and attraction?

The "it's my sexy body and I wear what I want!" kind of thing I find a bit sad; yes, bodies are sexy, but surely that kind of competitive pride is vulgar if the implication is that others might not have the sex appeal you are flaunting.

The whole thing of judging anyone on what they wear comes back to issues of money and power anyway, like the scorn poured on 'chavs' as though all people who dress one way must be stupid and undeserving. Tribalism like that, again, smacks of a brutal lack of empathy.

The Rapture is based on a similar arrogant sin of pride, that only the most faithful, the most pure, the most righteous will be chosen by God to be taken away from the Earth to miss out on the trials of the Last Days. The truth is, I suspect, that it's a lot easier to resist temptation if you've not been in terribly difficult situations, but also that it's also easy to fail to find empathy if you've not had the same trial by fire. Drug use can be hard to understand, for instance, if you've never done it, so you find yourself saying, "I'm high on life!" without really knowing why people drink, smoke or do other things to abnegate the self.

I can certainly see the appeal of The Rapture, though. The thought of being lifted up and away from all of this is kind of what I was after when I was in the depths of depression; it's what I was trying to emulate when I'd overdose on painkillers. It was what I'd get a taste of when I'd take tantalising risks with drugs and sex. It's the feeling I had when I was lifted by gloved hands when I'd passed out from a suicide attempt and the world was just sparks of light in front of my eyes and a paramedic said: "It'll be alright."

The electric charge that burns through every cell as the drug hits you and your favourite song ever (of that moment) comes on on the club and you forget everything.

That feeling of lightness as the seizure finally breaks from the confusion and panic into unconsciousness and sleep and time melts away and I feel nothing but the peculiar sensation as if ants are crawling across the right side of my brain.

It's freedom that The Rapture represents: a severance from all of the burdens of the guilt and consequences of this world and the thousand tiny cuts that flesh is heir to. The grief and pain that we shoulder and ignore that erodes our ability to empathise with one another. We need that phone for our job, so we ignore the screams that made it. A line of coke will help to deaden the cries, but the taste of blood that lingers in our conscience about where that's come from kicks with the comedown. 

We're all caught in a vast web of cruelty that if we stop to examine it we cannot condone easily, so we joke about the loons who want out of this into the arms of some illusory father figure who'll lift them up from their suicide attempt onto some hospital bed in the sky and tell them that they'll be okay, fit them with some morphine drip of Christ's love and immortality and an eternal distance from everything they've left behind.

So, yes, I'm going to have a giggle about the thought of being beamed up to some sky citadel where I could laugh at all the losers with my smug-father, but secretly I'm wishing there were some hope for the world that things could be better.

Things can be better, but I think the secret is to start small and remember that you're the one who has to live with the things you do.

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