'Bringers of the New Dawn' Oil, ashes and charcoal on burned panel
The above image is of a bombed out building somewhere in Syria. The title is ‘Bringers of the New Dawn’ which is a play on a new age book by a similar name called ‘Bringers of the Dawn.’ My fascination with new age material, politics and religion are mixed together in this image. On the right is a list of all the dates that were prophesized for the end of the world. The list is broken up into dates that are specific down to the day they were to occur and dates that are more ambiguous, usually just a year, meaning that the prophecy was to become true sometime in that year. What is interesting is that there are centuries where prophecies of the end of the world were more common, for example in the 17th century, when the year 1666 was approaching. The obvious reason for this is that in Christian mythology the number of the beast from Revelation is 666. The closer to our time the dates get, the more specific they get. For one reason or another, modern science and the enlightenment seems to have had influence on the way that the end of the world was calculated. With the more rational side of humanity coming to the fore, Christianity found it necessary to become more specific even in its prophecies. Not only this, the prophecies increased, to something like double in the 20th century, especially toward the end of the century and close to the year 2012. On his own, Harold Camping was responsible for at least 4-6 prophecies of the end.
What the image brings together is a type of anxiety about the future. Where in the past this anxiety was produced and assuaged by religion and the priesthood, with the age of reason and enlightenment, anxiety about what is uncertain became entwined with the new belief system in progress. Progress itself created the conditions under which uncertainty increased and so did anxiety about what would happen next. This proved to be a fertile ground for the imaginings of the future by people that wanted to control it. These ‘Bringers of the New Dawn’ are tied to the neo-conservative and neo-liberal movements, each wanting to control the destiny of a whole society in their own specific way, usually through economics and ideology. More specifically, at the end of the 20th century, the neo-conservatives drafted and put together a think tank The Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This think tank produced a publication in which it outlined the way in which the US was to become the major player in global politics and economics through perpetual warfare. Though already decades in the process, the PNAC sought to destabilize the Middle-East and draw an alliance with Israel, based on an ancient prophecy of the second coming of Christ. According to the prophecy, the second coming would occur only if a number of key events happened, one of which was the establishment of the homeland of the Israelites, another of which was the destruction of the Isrealites themselves. With many of the bullet point on the prophecy list checked off, the PNAC wanted to speed up the process by fomenting wars and pitting neighbors against each other in the Middle-East. Eternal paradise would be achieved only through a process of war and suffering. This is of course eerily similar to the prophecies of the Thousand Year Reich that the Nazis wanted to create in the wake of a hostile war for world domination. Fantasies of life without suffering, in which only the best and the brightest are allowed to live and breed, are always wrapped in a mythology of heroic deeds, trials and tribulations. They are meant to be life lessons, but in reality they take on sinister dimensions of violence fueled by fundamentalist misunderstanding of the texts. Fundamentalists almost always believe that what they are doing is right and just, no matter what the means and at what cost to others surrounding them. They believe that they are the true inheritors of knowledge and power and thus the ‘Bringers of the New Dawn.’