One moment in Chapters 1-6 of Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency that stood out to me was in the fourth issue, Hundred, when the “Heaven’s One Hundred” group’s plan is described. It reminded me of some of Frank Kermode’s points about apocalypse prediction in his essay “The End.” The Hundred’s plan of “transition” can’t really be considered an apocalypse in the classical sense of the entire world ending, but it does correspond to the religious sense of judgment and ascension. The word “heaven” is right there in the name of their group, after all.
In “The End,” Kermode explains that “The great majority of interpretations of Apocalypse assume that the End is pretty near. Consequently the historical allegory is always having to be revised; time discredits it” (8). Kermode speaks of eschatologists having to revise dates in order to account for the passage of time. This practice ensures that whenever the apocalypse fails to occur, everyone still believes that it will eventually happen. Since the world has never actually ended , the apocalypse is an event that is repeatedly delayed, again and again, in a cycle that will last for as long as people are around to predict it. The Hundred’s plan for their “transition” seems to be specifically designed to avert this cycle. At the very outset of the issue, the first information we are presented with is that the Hundred have already poisoned themselves. Their “transition” will happen, when they say it will, because they’ve taken direct action towards causing it themselves.
It is interesting to consider the role of technology, in the modern sense, in the Hundred’s manufactured end and the way the graphic novel presents it. On the subject of changing times, Kermode observes that “What I called naive apocalyptism has been modified to produce (under the pressure and relevance of great new systems of knowledge, technological and social change, of human decision itself) a sense of ends only loosely related to the older predictive apocalypse, and to its simpler notions of decadence, empire, transition, heavens on earth” (26-27). The Hundred are presented as a group that is greatly influenced by technology, from their exclusive use of the internet for communication to the tenets of their religion itself (Their worship of “the multisexual space gods from beyond the pillars of creation” is obviously a reference to some of the crazier science-fiction inspired religions that have appeared in the age of the internet). Their version of the end is even facilitated by technology (the poison and explosives) rather than by supernatural forces. Warren Ellis presents an extremist group whose existence is facilitated by modern technology, however he isn’t portraying technology as entirely negative, just portraying a negative side to it. In a sense, Heaven’s One Hundred is a counterpart or foil to the Global Frequency, which uses technology to stop apocalyptic scenarios. The Frequency also would not exist if it weren’t for a global communications network, and even if Aleph was lying about DDoSing their website, like she was about using a satellite to disable the remote, those are both still things the Frequency is likely to do. The issue’s disaster is only even known about because the Frequency monitors the internet, no one else knew about the Hundred’s plan. Ellis’s message seems to be not that technology is good or evil, just inevitable, that it’s a part of the 21st century world, and that we need to pay attention to it.
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