Nemu’s End by Reverend Nemu
Originally published in 2009 ‘Nemu’s End – History, Psychology, and Poetry of the Apocalypse’ by Reverend Nemu is an exploratory work of non-fiction. The premise of the book is a deconstruction of social, historical, philosophical and scientific strata. And at the same time it posits the idea of ‘apocalypse’ as a revelatory force of change in both ourselves and society.
A book of this nature is difficult to comprehensively review. The amount of diverse ground it covers means anyone wishing to test the numerous facts would have to set aside a good deal of time to reveal and investigate all its various sources and references. Though, it should be said, the fundamental aspect of the book i.e. the message of apocalypse, the possibility of a catastrophic change in perspective for the Self, is the consistency that binds all the many fields together.
The rapid fact-weaving narrative of the book is engaging and, as the reader, you are whisked through highly diverse topics and debates, like the scientific method, Spiritualist churches, biographical details, theories on human perception and so on. The apocalyptic message is, however, always consistent – uncovering that which is hidden from us by revealing the untruth of received and untested wisdom – For example, Nemu attempts to break down the scientific method and in doing so demonstrates the possibility of multiple analytical perspectives; revealing the danger of being trapped by a single discourse.
One section that I found particularly interesting is titled ‘Neuro-Apocalypse One: The Monkey Puzzle’. In it, Nemu describes – against the backdrop of his own experiences of living in Japan – cultural, linguistic and perceptive differences between Westerners and the Japanese and does so in good humour: “We navigate through the visual cortex, and touch the world through the padded gloves of our nervous systems, which is why a kiss from a Thai princess tastes sweet like mango, until you realize this mango is a man.” He further demonstrates the relativity of perception and in doing so reiterates how one must not be mastered by these perceptions, precisely because they are relative.
I’ll now concentrate more on the sections to do with psychedelics, in order to keep this review more concise and the book within the general scope of PsypressUK. It should be noted that these constitute only a couple of the chapters of ‘Nemu’s End’. Aside from the political-historical analysis of State intervention with psychedelic drugs, which is now standard fare in demonstrating State repression and secrecy, Nemu outlines what role psychedelics can play in the apocalyptic analysis of Self.
Citing the work of Dr. Roland Fischer, who conducted experiments with Psilocybin and their effects on visual space, Nemu correlates Fischer’s findings that they improved visual acuity and revealed imbalance, to the general characteristics of psychedelics: “This capacity to reveal imbalance makes them excellent tools for learning about ourselves. Whereas we often convince ourselves that we are neither addicted nor compulsive, and that our behaviour is perfectly rational, psychedelics question these assumptions.” In giving psychedelics value as tools for “learning about ourselves” Nemu ascribes them a psychological value; very in keeping with 1950s discourse. The important difference is the way in which the psychedelic experience is mediated; by a setting rather than a psychoanalyst.
Nemu describes, very positively, his experiences and the practices of Santo Daime; a syncretic spiritual practice that uses ayahuasca as a sacrament: “In a Daime work, wandering around, eating, chatting, and the whole social game is forbidden. With the ego temporarily obliterated and nothing to do but sing, shake a maraca, and dance in formation with everyone else, you can safely follow your journey where it takes you.” Interestingly, this paints a similarly mediated psychological picture, only that the practice is mediated through song and dance. Also, it is worth noting, the identification of the “ego” with the “whole social game” is very indicative of the psychedelic conception of the ego first employed by Timothy Leary.
A major debate surrounding contemporary psychedelic culture concerns the historical, or pre-historical, use of psychedelic drugs by humanity. Nemu writes: “It is a kind of heresy to speculate that the ancients took drugs, but the opposite is just plain silly.” The ‘ancients’ refers to history, not prehistory and it essentially encompasses the pre-ecclesiastical written records. The academic argument that Nemu slyly backhands as “plain silly” is that the historical record is inconclusive; however, this doesn’t deny that it happened but rather recognizes that to say it as such is a faith-based argument. Therefore to anyone who makes this claim we must ask; why do you make this argument? ‘Historical truth’ would perhaps fly in the face of evidence so perhaps the most purposeful reasoning for making the argument is to historically pin a legal status of psychedelics and thereby adding weight to the contemporary voice for legalisation.
In the end though, Nemu’s assessment of psychedelics is very representative of the whole ‘apocalypse’ project and it seems to embody the whole process of change that underlines the book: “Psychedelics tear down constructions and wash away worlds, unleashing the raw power of consciousness.” The power of consciousness can perhaps only be measured in the way that it is exercised and ‘Nemu’s End’ is a brilliant exposition of the ways that we can utilize the consciousness tool. So in deconstructing so many threads, Nemu, simultaneously through the apocalypse, posits the possibility of a new construction of Self. To download section for free, or to order a copy to buy, please visit Reverend Nemu’s website.