With growing ecological, economic, and political instability, one wonders how long things can continue as they are. Don’t we seem overdue for some fundamental restructuring of our systems? Our society? Ourselves? What other worlds are possible?
In his project, the Icon, Brendan Graham Dempsey is imagining a future civilization through its canon of sacred scriptures. This multi-media work—incorporating writing (in various genres), illustration and music—will offer a glimpse into an imagined culture, an entire tradition of myths, rituals, songs and ceremonies, philosophy, criticism and commentary. And just as every civilization has its epic literature, so GOD, a 500-page pentameter poem written by a mysterious figure named Julian, is theirs.
DEATH is the first installment in the GOD trilogy. It takes as its subject the last myth with any real currency in secular times: The Death of God. What the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had ominously alluded to, Julian’s first poem chronicles in dramatic detail, enlarging the haunting philosophical myth to 125 pages of industrial war in Heaven.
We hear it all from Joel, a former angel who sided with the insurrectionists after Heaven failed him. Singing on his mandolin by the grave of God, Joel offers his account of God’s death in memory of Sacredness: a final song to eulogize Spirit. From the ancient origins of religion, then, to the modern disenchantment of the world, Joel narrates the West’s epochal transformation, overseen and led by an iconoclastic intellectual named John Faust.
The fallout from this existential war, and the personal quest it sets in motion for the speaker, will be taken up in the poem’s sequels, DESCENT (summer 2019) and RESURRECTION (summer 2020).
GOD is presented in the form of a critical edition by this culture’s future scholars. In addition to Julian’s poem, then, are over 150 pages of supplementary material. This includes
- two prefaces and marginal notes by the poem’s original editor, A. Severan
- introduction, additional marginalia, and appendices of extended notes, discussion questions, and literary criticism by the critical edition’s editor, M. M. Greenwood
- the Corpus Julianicus, a (probably pseudepigraphal) collection of texts purported to be those of the author, from which his traditional biography has been abstracted
- a musical liturgy from the imagined culture’s catechism-esque work, the Praxipoetica
- a collection of discovered manuscript fragments that develop material from Julian’s work; and, finally,
- the first in a triptych of philosophical essays called The Oil & The Lamp.