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Everyday Apocalypse Paperback – December 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
"Apocalypse"-as a genre and as a mind-set-is commonly misunderstood, as something hidden in the back of the Bible and characterized by a gnostic or nihilistic disdain for anything earthly or human. So says Dark, a teacher of English at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, arguing persuasively that genuine apocalypse, informed by Scripture and the rest of biblical tradition, isn't hidden. It can be seen in books and music and on screens large and small. As the first chapter argues, apocalypse isn't primarily about destruction or fortune telling, but about the future pushing into the present, "cracking the pavement of the status quo... announcing a new world of unrealized possibility." The remaining chapters report on what Dark sees as he looks at pop culture through the wide-angle lens of God's ultimate purposes for all of creation. Dark is a close reader not only of pages (Shakespeare and Flannery O'Connor), but tunes (Radiohead and Beck), and film (Truman Show and The Matrix). He is a wide, wise, and good reader, and this book shows him also to be a fine writer - illuminating, engaging, often funny, sometimes disturbing. Familiarity with the cultural phenomena to which he points is helpful, but not necessary. Throughout he helpfully gestures toward others with apocalyptic eyeglasses: poets, theologians, critics, celebrities. If readers allow the book to do its work, they, too, will acquire what he calls "apocalyptic acumen" or "imaginative magnanimity."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
"God gave David Dark a gift-the ability to inhale copious amounts of movies, literature, and articulate rock music, sieve it through the lungs of his spiritually discerning mind and soul, and then exhale it full of the sweetest Biblical wisdom and understanding as to where faith and culture caress and collide. He has been doing this in my living room for years. And now another gift from God-David Darks gift is available to everybody." -Steve Stockman, author of Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2
"David Dark presents us with an alternative way of seeing-with apocalyptic expectations-that is fresh, inviting, and laced with biblical insight. Everyday Apocalypse charts a course through a range of popular artworks, revealing unexpected surprises along the way while opening new avenues for understanding film, fiction, television programs, and popular music." -William D. Romanowski, author of Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture
"David Dark's key insight in this book is that the apocalyptic vision doesn't heed our usual distinctions between "high" and "pop" culture; he therefore follows the trail of apocalypse wherever it leads-through movies, TV, music, and fiction-and he does so with flair, aplomb, and a determination to consider the whole of human culture in light of the enigmatic and overwhelming Jesus of John's own Apocalypse. Everyday Apocalypse is a fine ride." -Alan Jacobs, author of A Visit to Vanity Fair
"Apocalyptic is not religious fantasy about the future, but a window on the present in the light of the future. David Dark has turned it into a powerful tool for cultural criticism. Literary history and contemporary media are used to throw light on one another. Not many authors can successfully put Beck and John Donne together in the same sentence. Above all, significant examples of contemporary literature, television, music, and film are reviewed, not to show how morally bad they are, but to allow them to show us our reality, if we are willing to be shown it. Highly recommended." -Rt. Reverend Graham Cray
David Dark has published articles and reviews in Prism magazine and Books & Culture. He teaches English at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville
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Dark concerns himself with contemporary media. Through unusual juxtapositions (Bakhtin on medievalism, Swift, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky are quoted in a chapter on the Simpsons), he reminds us that contemporary genres treat truth best when they enter a conversation as old as humankind---a conversation describing the mysteries of redemption, hope, and joy in reality. This looting the wisdom of the ages eliminates a sense of background, brings all truth to the fore----a strategy which accurately depicts the universality of Dark's subject (and the subject of his subjects).
I have some concerns with his claim that authors should confine themselves to mere description of the way things are, avoiding mastery or domination of message and material. The semantic realms of description, interpretation, judgment, and mastery require blurred boundaries, or at least more clearly nuanced ones, to be of any practical use. Writing a book implies some "domination" of a subject, although humility can remove any offense from organisation's claim to authority.
Dark's prose is clear enough and profound, in some places dull, in others quite memorable.
He reads the wise interpreters.
I liked most of the "icons" Dark goes thru. However, many of the chapters just sort of go thru lyrics of songs, scenes of movies making comments. Dark doesn't necessarily weave it all in together in a memorable way.
Also, the author evidently lives in the Nashville country music bubble and doesn't think too much of it but at least complements Bruce Springsteen, Victoria Williams and Elvis Costello (not artists I connect with the country music industry). Having grown up on country music, I realize its silliness but there is some truth there too. When the kingdom has come, many of us will mudbog and raise cows.
Dark's subjects come across as the artists he likes, artists that those with good taste like. In a book about everyday transcendence in pop culture, I would think that the mass market types would be the subjects - finding the diamonds among the coal.
My favorite story was actually from the end of the book where the author's artist friend was faced with a dilemma. He either sold a painting and had to subscribe to a marketing/manager relationship that troubled him, or else refuse to sell and look petty. Instead, he gave the painting away. He saw his purpose as producing beauty and getting it out there instead of just painting for a living.
All that being said, I enjoyed reading the book, finished it and learned some things. Thus 4 stars.
Didn't quite understand a sentence? Re-read it carefully to see how each sentence lends itself to the next. Despite its intracacies, this is a book whose message transcends the sum of its parts. Reccomended to anyone who is interested in making the radical assertion that Christ is Lord, and anyone willing to see a truer reflection of what Christ-following and Christian culture should entail, rather than what the mainstream media is willing to depict.
By the way, since when was Flannery O'Connor a pop-culture icon?!