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By Thomas J. J. Altizer

Heritage as Apocalypse is a reenactment of the background of the Western awareness from the Homeric and Biblica revolutions via Finnegans Wake. this happens via a historic, literary, and theological research of the Christian epic culture. whereas recognition is concentrated essentially upon Dante, Milton, Blake, and Joyce, the Classical and Biblical foundations of the Christian epic are explored with the goal of getting to know an natural harmony within the evolution of the Western attention. Our basic epics are pointed out as innovative breakthroughs, not just as variations of attention but in addition documents of social revolutions. The Christian epic is either a outcome and a chief embodiment of the decisive ancient revolutions, revolutions culminating with the finishing of our old evolution.

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That cataclysmic shattering epically occurs and is enacted in Blake's prophetic epics, epics which reverse our past so as to promise a new and universal future, a future which is Apocalypse. That Apocalypse is finally enacted in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, and therein and thereby a universal past becomes present as our apocalyptic future. While such a brief summary says very little about our epic tradition, it perhaps suggests the possibility that that tradition is an organic tradition, and that it has organically developed or evolved from a real Page 16 and actual beginning to an actual and apocalyptic ending.

However, there is no exegesis here that will appear either as strange or unfounded to critical students of our epic texts; what is new here is rather the attempt to conjoin and unite these epics. There are occasions herein when I have found the very words of a master scholar to be so overwhelming that I have simply paraphrased them rather than be willing to dilute their power. Here, I can only record those scholars whom I have consciously so employed: Erich Auerbach, Marc Bloch, Rudolf Bultmann, Alfred Cobban, E.

Indeed, all distance passes away in the presence of these bodies, but that perishing is not the perishing of death, which is the gift of the archaic Goddess; it is rather a perishing which is the advent of life, a dissolution or perishing of everything that is not a bodily presence. Even the garments of these goddesses are aflame with an immediate sensuality. The garments more fully embody the goddesses than does their visible flesh, for the folds of these celestial gowns are overflowing with energy, an energy that seems to derive from the sacred center of their breasts.

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