Given that the biblical book of Revelation is the single most influential text on my own paltry contributions to literature, my ears always perk whenever the apocalyptic prophecies of John creep back into the mainstream zeitgeist. This brand new single by A Perfect Circle is the most overt example in memory. Although I doubt it was intended to be as literally Christian as I took it, I must confess that it brought a tear to this romantic eye.
Before listening to it for the first time, I had just finished reading articles on the popularization of human microchipping (a likely suspect for the so-called ‘Mark of the Beast’), and Elsagate (the sick practice of couching violent, sexual, and occult content in online childrens’ cartoons). Evil has always been with us, but in some respects it seems to be metastasizing due to advanced technology. And as I re-read the Apostle John’s words, I have to shake my head at the proposition that he was merely guessing, or that his accuracy was coincidence.
John described a world made one in ways far surpassing the ability of his contemporary imperial Rome. In Revelation, global communication is apparently done at near-instantaneous speeds far surpassing that of chariots; the peoples of the world are starved of tribal identities and religious sincerity to the extent that they willingly acknowledge the Antichrist as their collective god (whereas Rome achieved foreign allegiance primarily through military might); etc. Most notable is the implication therein that Christianity would become the effective world religion, reign uncontested for a lengthy period, then fall ingloriously out of favor to the extent that genuine believers become an astounding minority (a mere 144k globally, it seems). To claim that John, from his exile on Patmos, could coincidentally guess the entire history of Christianity at that early date when even the term “Christian” was yet to be established strikes me as far more absurd than simply accepting his visionary glimpse of the future.
A Perfect Circle here gives us a faithful Revelation narrative that seems to be set at the ascendancy of the Antichrist. Replacing Jesus as the recognized Logos or Word, he rewrites and inverses Jesus’ beatitudes, blessing the worst and wickedest of man rather than the downtrodden and despised. Finally, we are told that all ethical and/or powerless people living in the Antichrist’s age are doomed.
Expecting these very apocalyptic events is an established Christian practice–or at least it was, before what I call the Warholization* of the religion took place. Now it bears only the connotation of crackpot Chicken-Littles predicting the exact date of the Earth’s grand finale (despite Christ Himself having said only God knows that specific information). A Perfect Circle have here delivered more astute biblical exegesis than many a pulpit as of late, joining Johnny Cash’s legacy of faithfully telling Revelation through song.
*After the Banksy quote: “Andy Warhol made a statement by repeating famous icons until they became meaningless.” I expound upon this in my essay “Warhol and the Impersonation of Christ,” which can be found in my book Deus Non Machina.