"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 20 July 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Surprise Ending



"I am with you always, even to

the end of time," Jesus told his

disciples toward the end of

Matthew's gospel, and ever

since, both goats and sheep have

been wondering just when that

would come. While the Y2K crisis

seemed poised to awaken

apocalyptics from their

post–Cold War slump, its

greatest achievement so far has

been to top Wargames' WOPR as

the ideal target of

anti-computer animus. After 15

years of hearing about "the

Net," "cyberspace," and other

Dungeons and Dragons–style

buzzwords, having an army of

hardcore tech experts announce

that, yes, computers might well

ruin the world, just as your

grandfather and General Beringer

suspected, was music to the ears

of all those eunuch and

maximalist writers for whom the

End of the World as We Know It

can't come soon enough. But the

fanatics who are camped out in

garrison yurts in Nevada — as

if the cat-urine stench and

decaying taco lettuce of their

own apartments weren't enough to

keep the Humungus at bay —

are motivated less by fear of

losing their VCR settings before

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin'

Eve heats up than by the hope

that God or some other superior

being will step in when the

millennial odometer changes over.


What's strange is how much

recent evidence seems to be

backing up this most irrational

and arbitrary of hunches.


There are Hubble photos that

make the bubble economy look

like the least of our worries.

There are Jesus coins, legal

tender for all next-world debts

(that "US$" symbol in the Suck

Stylebook has already been

updated to read "JC$"). There's

the Savior's (or Kris Kristofferson's)

image-on-shroud at Turin,

which is still winning converts,

despite centuries of refutation

by "mainstream scientists."



More ominously, we have the

recent discovery of Atlantis

(also known as Limuria, or Mu)

under the Indian Ocean. After

years of being pooh-poohed by

the inheritors of its

semi-divine arts and sciences,

history's original house of sand —

its orb-worshipping elders

and web-fingered heroes wait to

impart their wisdom to us —

has reemerged. The discovery,

after 20 million years, of the

Kerguelen Plateau would seem to

discredit the previous theory of

Atlantis' location under Lake

Poopó in Bolivia — a

site that attracted John

Blashford-Snell, the noted

British explorer, because of

what looked to be its

sophisticated canals. "[The

Canal] exactly fits the

dimensions described in Plato,"

Blashford-Snell pointed out.

"There are too many similarities

between this place and Plato's

description to ignore." (Plato's

description of Atlantis has been

the ur-source of all theories

about the lost continent,

although the writings of Hermes

Trimigestus, Pletho Pappus,

Orange Julius, and of course

James and/or Albert Churchward

should not be dismissed out of



What really attracted the

explorers to Atlantis, however,

was how it seemed to explain the

existence of cocaine and tobacco

in the systems of Egyptian

mummies, when these ancient

people were in fact told such

stuff would kill them.

Blashford-Snell was confident

the Atlantans had means to

travel the seas and presumably

to deliver new-world stimulants

to old-world roués. And

the image of high-living,

pipe-hitting hipsters of the

Im-Ho-Tep school just

underscores the fact that

mummies are in many ways ideal

representatives of life in the

future. What's more, they seem

to be popping up with almost

alarming regularity. Mummies

have recently been found in

Argentina, 500 years old and

perfectly preserved, down to

their internal organs and downy

forearm hairs. What they will

tell us about ancient times is

as yet undetermined. But what

they already tell us about the

future is altogether too plain.

Lost empires and fallen

civilizations are increasingly

popular because they seem to

foreshadow what may happen to

us, and probably due to our own




The current Rapture cult has no

illusions about the why behind

Y2K. Even when not outrightly

millennial in the Prince mode,

tribulationist Protestants seem

to think that we are getting

just what is coming to us. Their

evidence is the usual grab bag

of news tidbits crammed into

out-of-context biblical

quotations — a newly

discovered supernova, for

example, corresponding to an

obscure passage from Job about

seeing the light or a "foreign

army," naturally meaning NATO.


Always airtight in the short

term, these readings of the

Reuters tea leaves age about as

gracefully as Hal Lindsey's hair

weave, as reconfigurations among

"The Bear," "The Eagle," and

"The Snake" make last year's

10-horned beast look like this

year's Gay Jewish Antichrist.

Like their brethren among the

digerati, however,

Rapturologists really do want

the world to end, and their

omens amount to wishful

thinking. But the proof is

there, in a larger sense:

Memento mori, like the Argentine

mummies or the milk carton

children (whom hardcore doomsday

enactors believe to have bodily

ascended into heaven) are all

the evidence you need to know

that the end of the world is

coming — sooner or later.



As eschatological harbingers,

these are far more compelling

than the possible malfunction of

machines so crude they can't

even fly or shoot death beams.

As always, it's the devastation

visited on everybody else that

is really most attractive about

all end-of-the-world scenarios.

Each week seems to yield a new

marvel of nature, be it a giant

bacterium found near Namibia (so

big you can see it on your desk)

or embryo fabrication or, better

still, a twin Earth floating

through space somewhere,

supporting life in its dark,

hydrogen-warmed oceans. The SETI

project is now at work on

Cheetos-covered desktops across

America, searching for a likely

replacement for us or at least a

benevolent overlord to punish



Because in the end, so to speak,

that's what pop eschatology is

all about: the big payoff. While

it's supposedly the province of

the unhinged faithful, what the

whole-earth dead pool being

wagered on the various end-times

fan sites and in the popular

"Left Behind" series of

adventure books really

demonstrate is a failure of

faith. Heaven and Hell in the

traditional sense are no longer

part of the Christian triptych;

this is the world that matters,

and even so-called

fundamentalists grope for

exotic, sub-geniusy formulae to

keep themselves interested in

the next world. By focusing on

the end of this one, better men

and women than ourselves are

reminded "thou art mortal" and

so still party like it's 1999.

And even if things don't work

out the way they plan, it's not

the end of the world.

courtesy of Moleman

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