Friday, March 18, 2011

Godzilla's Rage: Japan's Doom, Myth, Magic and Black Swans


By Mr. VI

Godzilla is distinctly annoyed. So is Mothra, and it’s not good to annoy giant monsters, whether they be saurian or of the genus Lepidoptera. Earthquake, tsunami and radiation? Japan knows what’s happening - it’s known for years.

Don’t tell me otherwise. This is the realm of strange beasts, the kaiju; the giant monsters, the daikajiu. Plumes of atomic fire, thousands dead, cities crushed while valiant nuclear workers struggle to stop their power stations from meltdown.

Across the world, the panicked peoples twitch and bulk-buy radiation pills, echoes of Chernobyl reverberating up from the memory of the past. Whole cities emptied, half-ruined in irradiated moments - petrified by absence as man fled.

Go back a quarter of a century. Wormwood blazed out then; bitter blasted grass marking the passage of star-fire - and yet people have the gall to ask ‘what’s in a name?’

And the inexorable biological movements continue. The biosphere creaks and groans, an alien speech which is way beyond hominid primates. It adapts and shifts, moving with epochal speed; tellurian movements ripple and shudder like the scales of some great monstrosity beneath the waves.

The gloaming is Cherenkov blue; between today and tomorrow the chaos is raising its head, birthing monsters like Tiamat from the salty seas.

The Tower’s been blasted, and everything is in free-fall.

Listen to the narratives, the white noise - the babble of confusion. Myriad voices, all striving to be heard. Experts rise and fall like the wave of a tsunami. The fact that Japan wasn’t totally destroyed by 9.0 earthquake is conveniently forgotten.

Yes, Godzilla is pissed off. The kami stretch and yawn; mountains shiver in their beds. In time, the risk assessors will sagely nod. Oh yes.

And yet:

'The Japanese Nuclear Commission had the following goals set in 2003: " The mean value of acute fatality risk by radiation exposure resultant from an accident of a nuclear installation to individuals of the public, who live in the vicinity of the site boundary of the nuclear installation, should not exceed the probability of about 1x10^6 per year (that is , at least 1 per million years)".

That policy was designed only 8 years ago. Their one in a million-year accident occurred about 8 year later.'

Were you expecting some learned analysis from me? Some literary criticism? Well, sorry, because we’re on Godzilla’s time here. A million years, a thousand centuries; the time before time. No human footprint marked the sands a million years ago - at least nothing we’d recognise as such.

These are mythic scales, mythic events:

The same processes that set the stars to burn are flexing in their chains in mathematics and engineering. And as they do, a flock of Black Swans arc their wings over this planet - the black birds that accompany every major event.

Those may be the black birds which I reference in Immanence of Myth; whether they be carrion eaters that feast on randomness and somehow metabolise it into hindsight, or they be rubber-neckers frightened into the air by seeming catastrophe, it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that they speak, they live, they exist.

Out of seeming impossibility, such things emerge, in spite of man. When things become virtually impossible, they become immeasurable, imperceptible and unintelligible. They are classed together, opaque and manifold, multiplicitous and indivisible.

This is the realm of the magician, the death’s head - the blackest nigredo of shining Raven’s Head. These are the lands of the outliers; where the model, the plan, the map breaks down.

There will be miracles. Survivors who are irrevocably changed by the concatenation of events, emerging to live again, against rational thought. There will be wonders - beauties, dreams and nightmares. The flame of the human spirit will blaze brightly beyond belief in some quarters, in others it will leave only cold ashes, crusted blood and shattered bone.

The songs of joy will be accompanied by the wails of utter lamentations. Heroes shall be born, risking their lives for strangers and generations unborn.

This is not hyperbole. This is the blood and the guts and the primal space in which we move. Events are haecceities - the hermeneutics of a given event are, despite what we have been trained to think, completely open.

And what’s more, a magician ceases to care just which interpretation is within the consensual reality of the bell-curve, the normal distribution. If anything, they operate on the barbell pattern - the most extreme usable outlying possibilities are preferred over the central.

Early Tarot decks call the Magician Le Bateleur, the ‘juggler’ or ‘sleight of hand artist’ - and what else would you call one who can hold seemingly exclusive options as equal?

Yes indeed, this is mystic territory; this extremity that connects us to the deepest stories, as we’ve spoken of before. This is so alien, so exterior and out-there that we invoke the metaphor of gods, scientific models and monsters to make it intelligible. Opacity frightens most; the notion that the near-indescribably small may as well be the unutterably vast, is abhorrent.

To them, an inaccurate map is better than no map at all, but to the one who can spin usable narratives as easily as Rumpelstiltskin spun flax, the absence of a map allows them to exist in conditions others would find distinctly unpalatable.

So to the magician, it’s ‘As above, so below’, because ‘The best model we have’ is not particularly useful, in extremis is it?.

And Godzilla is very bloody extreme.

My name is VI; I’m a magician and I’m fond of big black birds that tell you secrets.

Be seeing you.


Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

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