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575. The family (XII)

This is the apocalypse. The image above is a cell from the comic Flight 714; the hero, Tintin, has just depressed the statue’s eyeball and revealed that the entire block is hinged—it swings open to reveal... This moment captures what Heidegger meant by aletheia—truth, not correspondence truth, but truth as an act that unveils. As you can see from the characters around the statue, aletheia stuns you—the dog, Snowy, has literally been knocked backwards on his keister in shock. This is how people react to the revelation; indeed, “the apocalypse” finds its roots in the ancient Greek apokalyptein—to reveal, to uncover. This image is the apocalypse.

The apocalypse is about the end of the world, no? Yes, absolutely; and yet you have to consider that the picture above depicts the end of the world for the characters involved—subsequently, as they explore the revelation, they will see that was “the world” for them turned out to be “a world”. When the veil was rent, everything changed. In the next cell, Tintin says to Captain Haddock: “A secret passage!…It’s unbelievable…Pressing on the eye released a catch! But we must go on.” The Captain: “In there? But…” The revelation is unbelievable; it is beyond belief, it is uncanny—beyond words; hence the characters only “?!”. The revelation is also an invitation: the passage has been opened, but it takes courage to go into the truth. But we must go on.

As it happens, when our heroes press into the passage, they find an old friend—Professor Calculus—preoccupied with a pendulum; he has wandered about in the secret passages behind the statue for quite some time—he was summoned there, as were the other protagonists, by messages in his mind. As it turns out, there is a space journalist who guided the separated friends to the secret passages telepathically—the ancient statue is a spaceman’s helmet, the volcanic island was a UFO base many centuries ago and the space journalist is in touch with the space men, hence his ability to call telepathically. The story relates the Erich van Däniken mythology, then in its heyday—it was the 70s, a very occult time.

Aletheia is related to the detective story: Columbo pauses before he leaves, “Just one more thing…[then the revelation].” You also see it in Scooby-Doo when the mask is pulled off the crook who pretended to be a ghoul to devalue some prime real estate he intended to snap up cheap later. Yet these televisual revelations are not real aletheia; and this is because the revelation is a false revelation—Scooby-Doo always demystifies; it was just a man in a fancy dress outfit all along. *Oh noesh, Shwaggy*. By contrast, the Tintin story deepens the mystery—the mystery becomes more uncanny the deeper you go into it, it requires more courage to go into it.

The apocalypse is also seen in computer games, particularly real-time strategy games. In the Command and Conquer series every game map starts concealed by a blackness—called the shroud. Only the square with your first unit is visible; from this unit you construct a base, gather material for money, and use the money to build units. You uncover the map through war and economy—both the same thing really. So as you send your units outwards they rend the veil—pull back the shroud and reveal more resources. They also reveal enemy units and, eventually, the enemy base—usually, you must destroy it.

The game captures how the apocalypse works. You are under attack from a hidden enemy, and through your efforts to gather resources and units to fight him you reveal the world about you—a world that happens to include trees and rivers but is really about war. Hence the revelation comes about through war, through antagonism—and, of course, there are certain unit types that can restore the shroud, the units that deceive. Heraclitus is confirmed: all is war, war is revelation—the apocalypse.

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