Brown University Press published the book Hypotheses on Rapture in 1959 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the World’s Fair tragedy. The volume was edited by renowned thinker Phillip Tribe, then a critical-theory professor at the university. The book collected essays penned by a selection of philosophers, scientists, politicians, writers and artists, all carefully curated by Tribe for their diverse stances on the subject.
Sebastian Heim’s contribution, although brief, made the book an instant controversy. In a series of 30 aphorisms, Heim argued that the mass suicide of 80% of the world’s population, rather than be condemned, should be celebrated as performance art.
Tribe fought for the inclusion, a bold move that crushed his favor in academic circles, forcing him into intellectual obscurity.
god himself fell.
god lost his neutrality when he fell into the world. the rapture marks the end of religion precisely because of this fall. no longer an idea nor an absolute limit, god became mortal. he came to earth on the wings of judgment – to judge man amongst men. the rapture, properly speaking, was the brutal intrusion of justice itself. it was beyond law. it was law-destroying.
the rapture was an act of divine violence. it was a boundless act. it struck out against man. yet, the ultimate victim of this violence was the creator himself. the rapture was god committing suicide. it was destruction as violent creation. it was the demise of the concept of death. god erased himself so a new order could arise. this new order is nothing less than the order of man as a universal being.
the rapture was an event. an event, simply defined, is an encounter with the universal. what happened at the world’s fair was the rise of universality out of the particular. it was a breakthrough, an authentic moment of immortal discovery. god died as a mortal so man could live as immortal.
the rapture, as an event, was not for anyone. it was not caused by anyone. the rapture was truly for-itself. it can only be experienced as an authentic universal gesture.
as such, the rapture was the first truly political act. it rendered the unthinkable thinkable. it changed the field of the possible. it pushed the limits of feasibility and conceivability. nothing will ever be the same.
yet, the rapture was also an act of terrorism. it was political violence directed against the status quo.
one can never attack the capitalist system with direct force, because the system itself dictates the terms; it is the battlefield. one must never challenge an enemy in his own arena. thus, the genius behind the rapture was its shift from force to symbolism. there is nothing the system can do to an enemy who has turned his very death into a weapon. the rapture, therefore, suicided the world.
the result of this suicide was the radicalization of the world – to create a human singularity in the face of the ring’s singularity.
the rapture came as no surprise. it was expected. it was wanted. the rapture was the world’s obscure object of desire.
this desire was for the eradication of mortality along side with morality. the rapture succeeded. there is no more good nor evil. for how can there be in the face of freedom? as such, the rapture was the first true act of universal freedom. it was a pure act of autonomy.
the hypothesis that man, free man, should always choose good over evil, is not freedom at all – it is rather submission to slavery. true freedom is the ability to abuse freedom, to make excessive use of it.
freedom must always be violently excessive.
now, finally, as free men and women, we are alone. we are the daughters of violence. we are the sons of madness. the rapture is our only father.
before the rapture we lived in a world without certainty. the ring was up for debate. heaven? event horizon? ship? in a single day all of that changed. the void is now our only certainty.
what is at stake in this certainty is the symbolic itself. the rapture was an image. it was filmed. it was photographed. it was performed. our visual language has been forever changed.
as a visual gesture, the rapture was performance art.
art, at its best, is evental. art strives to elevate the particular to the level of the universal. art violently strives to leap out of security, out of what is taken for granted, to change the limits of the possible and open into a new world. without the creation of a new world, art is nothing.
the rapture has left us open to this new world. such an opening was previously unthinkable. the rapture was impossible before it happened. humanity is finally in the open.
therefore, the rapture should be celebrated as the greatest work of performance art the cosmos has ever seen.
with its aesthetics of ascent and collective movement, the rapture was visually and conceptually stunning. a thousand years of human history had been mere rehearsal for that moment. all those minds in concert achieved something in that act – a collective gesture – a decision – a yes. such a yes was a yes to chaos.
art is not order from chaos, but rather chaos as such. art enunciates the unselected multiplicity. art is void. chaos is thus the battle cry of the artist. without this possibility, art is nothing.
the rapture, as chaos, as performance art, as event, was thus a mad festival. it was a carnival. all gods died in the rapture except for dionysus. he was too drunk from celebration.
the rapture marked the return of the dionysian.
the victory of art, therefore, belongs to neither god nor the devil. it belongs to madness.
madness is art’s truth. it is the frontier that must be traversed. it is the very limit of the imagination, of man’s capacity for reason. madness is at once sublime and beautiful. it is a becoming. madness is man becoming god to fill the void of his absence. madness is the ultimate goal of the artistic gesture – creation from the void. artists must be faithful to this truth. yes. it is madness to be faithful to an event.
art, then, at its best, is faithful madness. it is the destruction of everything known for the sake of the true. it is an apocalyptic vision. to gaze upon the rapture, as a work of art, is thus madness itself. this is the point.
man can now see. madness is evental vision.
the narrative is thus: god is dead. he committed suicide in a law-destroying act of divine violence. this death opened man to the immortality of the universal. this violent gesture was a truly political act, an act of freedom. it was an event because it changed the face of the possible. it gave man access to truth. as such, the rapture was the greatest act of performance art the cosmos has ever seen. this victory was madness. it was dionysian. everything changed. yet the rapture was merely act one. the potentiality of the void is now open. man finally has vision. and the madness of its truth shall soon rain down upon the heads of men.
there is not enough madness.