Apocalypse Culture II BOOK review [Adam Parfrey]

Book Reviews
Apocalypse Culture II BOOK review [Adam Parfrey]
Jul 1, 2000, 17:15

APOCALYPSE CULTURE II edited by Adam Parfrey; Feral House, 2000

Apocalypse Culture II is an eloquent, disturbing, persuasive, testament to the imaginative faculty of the beast homo sapiens sapiens. If it has a polemic, it's the denigration of cultural/political systems that produce homogenized perception of, and thereby response to, the infinitely complex world we inhabit.

This is an anthology of essays, broadsides, manifestos, confessions, journals, and art work that the editor Adam Parfrey (founder of Feral House Publishing) believes embodies viewpoints and concepts that are important to acknowledge and understand, not necessarily embrace. Often, its points are made in discomfiting manner. Many readers will consider stances taken and statements made extreme or abhorrent; few are likely to inspire mass conversion. Among topics presented are pedophilia, shit-eatin' (and grinnin'!), necrophilia, Jewish support for Hitler, cannibalism, and a host of others that don't come up at baby showers. In many cases, the intelligence and earnestness of the authors are compelling and even persuasive to a point; at least their motives become comprehensible, human, and imbued with a kind of dignity and beauty if not normality per se.

Chris Campion's “Pedophilia and the Morally Righteous,” for example, calmly explains how man-boy affection was institutionalized in Classical Greece as a formal system of mentoring and sponsorship that might or might not include physical sexual expression. His article also makes a case for the absurdity of denying the sexual self-awareness and desires of any and all humans younger than the latter-day age of consent as defined by law, laying out a sober historical account of the introduction of the concept of “childhood” per se as a discreet stage of psychological and moral development to Western society and defined as essentially sexless: Campion argues that this only happened within the last 200 years. Campion does not reject arguments against legitimizing cross-generation sexual activity across the board but he does enable the reader to appreciate the complexity of the issue.

Likewise, Chad Hensky's profile of necrophiliac Leilah Wendell doesn't deny orthodox objections against corpse fucking, but it does transport the reader inside Wendell's personal metaphysic wherein physical communion with human remains is a transcendent spiritual experience rooted in deep, genuine reverence. However that impacts a reader's attitudes, it's hard to deny that her overall attitude towards living and dying is ultimately healthier than the hysterical denial that is pro forma at present in America.

There are contributions that will no doubt prove patently, pointedly offensive to the vast majority of readers. Nicholas Claux's proud assertion of his right to hunt, kill, and consume human prey, claiming Neanderthal, e.g. non homo sapiens, genetic heritage, ergo he's a different species, is one. The FAQ of “Joe,” a child abuse victim who embraces and glorifies the mass murderer's right to wreck revenge on society to express rage and defiance for past suffering, real or perceived, is also unlikely to generate much support not to mention former fanzine (Answer Me) maven Jim Goad's justification for viciously beating his girlfriend, the crime that landed him in prison. Even some of these pieces make valuable points in revealing the circumstances that molded the psyches that perpetrated or conceive the most monstrous acts. These articles demonstrate that as horrifying as some of these people's beliefs and practices may be, they're still human beings who operate via the exactly same underlying principles as the rest of us. Which perhaps, is the greatest horror of all.

The other main agenda of Apocalypse Culture II is examining mainstream media's enormous distorting of fact, knowingly as well as unknowingly. Further, TV and print outlets regularly proffer coverage at length that most certainly would be labeled “perverted,” even criminal if undertaken by underground media or individuals immersed in fringe cultures. Peter Sotos's meditation on the continuing media circus surrounding the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey is unsettling and provocative and yields no easy answers. Sotos juxtaposes the hardcore violent pedophile's obsessions and pursuits with media's ongoing exploitation of this tragedy exposing the sordidness of the latter in no uncertain terms. At the same time there's no denying that he is, without apology, glorifying the passions and moral stance that fuel the acts in question.

Repeated essays discuss and decry the government and media business's efforts to limit public debate, freedom of expression and, by implication, freedom of thought and emotion. Many hard questions are raised regarding the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1995 which extended the definition of child pornography to include wholly imaginary, totally computer-generated imagery establishing the criminality of creating or possessing such imagery. These laws now cover cases where no flesh and blood victim is involved in creating such materials and the perpetrator never goes on to physically or even psychologically victimize an actual child. This leads to tricky questions regarding photos, paintings, sculpture, film, music, or the written word and holds the creators of such images “responsible” for actual criminal acts by depicting or alluding to it.

The national media is also taken to task for unconsciously suppressing diversity of opinion by trivializing, ignoring or demonizing non-mainstream viewpoints. It's intimated on occasion here that this is willingly done and in concert with government agendas.

In the end, many difficult issues are raised by Apocalypse Culture II. It's a thoroughly stimulating, thought provoking read not only because of the topics tackled but also because it regularly approaches its topics from multiple, somewhat antagonistic angles; it forces the reader to actively analyze and process the material presented. Socrates woulda dug it!

-Howard W.

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