September 03, 2004

Apocalypse And / Or Metamorphosis


Apocalypse And / Or Metamorphosis by Norman O. Brown

This is not a very profound work about Apocalypse but an incisive book on Islamic Apocalypticism.

‘Massignon calls the Sura 18 the apocalypse of Islam. But sura 18 is a résumé, epitome of the whole Koran. The Koran is not like the Bible, historical, running from Genesis to Apocalypse. The Koran is altogether apocalyptic. The Koran backs off from that linear organization of time, revelation, and history which became the backbone of orthodox Christianity and remains the backbone of the Western culture after the death of God. Islam is wholly apocalyptic or eschatological, and its eschatology is not teleology. The moment of decision, the Hour of Judgment, is not reached at the end of a line, nor by a predestined cycle of cosmic recurrence; eschatology can break out at any moment. Koran 16:77: “To Allah belong the secrets of the heavens and the earth, and the matter of the Hour is as the twinkling of an eye, or it is nearer still.” In fully developed Islamic theology only the moment is real.” (Norman O Brown, The Apocalypse of Islam, in Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis, University of California Press, 1991, P. 86)

Posted by hyperstition at September 3, 2004 01:08 AM




I'm not familiar with this book (to be honest N.O.Brown has been - probably unfairly - filed under the "60s nutaballs" category in my CNS) but this idea of the Moment seems to resonate with the "Islamic Occasionalism" that fascinates Jacques Vallee.
One of the aspects of Islam that relatively secular Westerners have great difficulties dealing with is the absolute and continuous divine causation which makes all scientific modes of thinking redundant. Of course, the "God created the world and then it carried on mechanically" picture that seem more typical of Judaic/Christian theism is repellant from the PoV of philosophical purity, but it seems to inculcate a kind of clunky rationalism (even 'secularism' in general) by dissociating large tracts of quotidian experience from religious consciousness. This is Weber's 'demystification of the world' (which he attributed to Judaic monotheism), accompanied by a broad disinvestment of the miraculous in all its forms. Historical time is accepted as a kind of intermission between moments of divine action (creation/eschaton) where common sense - science, politics and ethics - can prevail.
The immanence of divinity to time within Islamic Occasionalism - with regularity perceived as a habit of God, rather than a property of the world - has huge implications for any imaginable 'intercivilizational dialogue', because if nothing happens except as an expression of divine will then no possible protocols for common understanding can be abstracted from the question of religious fidelity. Since the mental processes of infidels have literally nothing in common with those of believers submission (Islam) has to proceed any possible dialogue. Or, to reverse this conclusion, those from the 'muslim camp' able to engage in a dialogue with the West must either: (1) rely on Taqqiya (deception), pretending to share the basis for a communication that cannot possible exist
(2) appeal to a 'true' monotheism latent within Western monotheism - drawing out an Occasionalist potential (found in a few mad nuns etc.). Pagans, polytheists, and atheists are simply beyond the pale.
(3) enter a state of apostasy by thinking like infidels

Posted by: Nick at September 7, 2004 03:05 AM



Thank you for the info!

Posted by: Gaby at September 16, 2005 08:52 AM



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