Apocalypse revolves

A cycle or wheel revolving round and round a fixed point never gets anywhere. Revolutions come and go; they are historical phenomena, whereas no apocalypse has happened or can happen in history, because it is the opening of time, while history is limited to that which is already determined. History is the closet, discovery the living room. A revolution seen from within is an apocalypse, while an apocalyptic event seen retrospectively will appear revolutionary.

The very word revolution indicates recycling – like the cycles of the natural world, ‘persisting indefinitely in time. Looked at from an imaginative point of view, their renewal is an image of resurrection into eternity’ (Frye 1947, 211). Frye is referring here to Blake’s sense of history, which is somewhat more evolutionary than his cosmology appears at first glance.

Thus history exhibits a series of crises in which a sudden flash of imaginative vision (as in the French Revolution) bursts out, is counteracted by a more ruthless defense of the status quo, and subsides again. The evolution comes in the fact that the opposition grows sharper each time, and will one day present a clear-cut alternative of eternal life or extermination.

— Frye (1947, 260)

But in the presence of time, the alternatives are already clear: the closed circle of birth-and-death, or the opening of the dharma eye.

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