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Sounds Like An Asylum Film to Me

I had this post written last week, but decided to hold it until today, just in case; no one wants to enter the afterworld looking like a jackass.

As you may or may not have heard, the world was supposed to have ended this past Saturday. Obviously, it didn't, but according to this crazy nutter on the right here, the end was supposed to have begun by now (granted, it's the second time he thought that, but that's splitting hairs). He was going the rapture route, always a crowd pleaser, but in truth there have been doomsday profits of one sort or another for as long as there have been people. I thought - in lieu of crafting another rapture pitch (see The Asylum's 2012 Apocalypse, 2012 Doomsday and Meteor Apocalypse for fine examples of these) - I'd take a quick look at some other notable doomsday profits; you know, just for fun.

Doomsday prophets looooove planetary alignment. It's their equivalent of Raymond Chandler's advice to writers about advancing plot by introducing a gun: you can't really argue with it, and once it goes off, you can't stop it. So these two astrophysicists, Gribbin and Plagemann, in 1982 suggested that a rare alignment of all (at the time) 9 planets in our solar system (R.I.P. Pluto) would increase the gravitational pull to an extent that it would trigger massive earthquakes worldwide, crushing the planet like a really big egg. They convinced a lot of people of this, including Asimov, who wrote the intro for their book on the subject, The Jupiter Effect, now widely available for a quarter in used bookstores everywhere.

Edgar Cayce seems more like a creation of macabre fiction than a man: a forerunner of the New Age Movement, Cayce was a psychic, known to his followers and supporters as "The Sleeping Prophet" for the hypnotic trances he would enter in order to answer questions on a variety of subjects from faith-healing to Atlantis to prophecies on Earth changes. A lifelong Chrisitan, Cayce of course threw his hat into the ring of Biblical Armageddon, claiming that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the ensuing End of Days that this would set in motion, including the Battle for Heaven, would occur in 1999. All this prophecy really begat was a bitchin' song by Prince. Cayce, however, was smart enough to set this date long after he could hope to be alive, so what did he care?

Man, to be a zealot of moderate intelligence and exemplary charm in the 70's! Between the Quaaludes, the disco and the key parties, people were desperate to believe in anything! Enter Hal Lindsey, whose amazingly imaginative and startlingly detailed book The Late Great Planet Earth foretold a seven year cycle of some crazy-ass, Revelations-shit that would end with Jesus himself walking the Earth again and all us sinners shriveling into coal, or something like that. Orson Welles even narrated a doc about it; I shit you not. Lindsey's true genius, however, was in not mentioning a specific year this stuff was supposed to go down. Though it could be inferred he meant sometime in the late 80's, Lindsey's theological game of "I'm Not Touching You" has kept his finger in the face of fundamentalist nuts ever since.

If I wrote this as a pitch - old man learns Earth is about to be "recycled" and convinces three dozen people the only way to survive is to hitch a ride on the strange spaceship that flies concealed in the tail of a recently-discovered comet, but the only way to get on it is to transcend the physical form, a.k.a. dying - I'd gnaw my fucking hand off. Yet it's totally, completely, one-hundred percent what Marshall Applewhite was able to convince 39 sad and delusional people back in 1997, who all took their lives in matching leisurewear. Whether they made it aboard or not, we'll never know.

Alexander Scriabin was a 19th Century Russian composer of great renown. Towards the end of his life, however, Scriabin got strangely ambitious, dedicating most of his creative energies to a project he entitled Mysterium, intended to be performed in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and described by the man as such: "There will not be a single spectator. All will be participants. The work requires special people, special artists and a completely new culture. The cast of performers includes an orchestra, a large mixed choir, an instrument with visual effects, dancers, a procession, incense, and rhythmic textural articulation. The cathedral in which it will take place will not be of one single type of stone but will continually change with the atmosphere and motion of the Mysterium. This will be done with the aid of mists and lights, which will modify the architectural contours." Yep. Scriabin went on to say Mysterium would take seven days to perform, at the end of which, the world would fucking explode, presumably because of the symphony's incomparable awesomeness. (no joke, and if there's any honor among screenwriters, dibs dibs dibs dibs dibs) Fortunately for us - or unfortunately, depending on how much you dig music festivals -  Scriabin died before the project was close to completed.

So there you have it, a rogue's gallery of doomsday prophets come and gone. Add these to the, like, eight times over the past 200 years the Jehovah's Witness said we were kaput, and you can see just how commonplace the apocalypse is. 

So cheer up! But smoke 'em if you got 'em, cuz 2012's right around the corner, and that shit could be for real (unless of course you believe in this, in which case there's still time.)

1 comment:

  1. I love that the composer thinks the world is going to end with a giant symphony. Good luck making that into a movie, tho.